#teacher | Florida First-Grade Teacher Arrested After Trying to Buy Meth at School

A first-grade teacher in Jacksonville, Florida was arrested Thursday on suspicion of attempting to buy methamphetamine while she was working at school, the Clay County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement.

Deputies say Valerie Lee Prince, a teacher at Jacksonville Heights Elementary School, was arrested after she tried to purchase an eight ball of methamphetamine for $85 from an undercover officer last week. Law enforcement reportedly became aware of Prince during the course of a narcotics investigation between the CCSO, Homeland Security, and the Duval County School Police Department.

During the operation, Prince allegedly requested the undercover officer deliver the meth to her at school, Sgt. Vincent Hall said in a press conference.

“We did not deliver the drugs to that school, but that brought us great concern,” Hall said. “It was a pretty nonchalant request, and the indication was that it was no big deal to the suspect.”

Instead, police made Prince wait until she was finished working at the school and met up with her later to sell her 3.5 grams of methamphetamine. After the deal, police arrested Prince.

Deputies released an audio recording between Prince and an undercover informant released in which the teacher can be heard trying to figure out when the informant can drop off the drugs at her school.

“I was going to say, I could go out and meet you, but I can’t, I would just have to go out and run back in,” Prince says in the recording. “Just call me when you’re — because, you know, I work on 103rd. You call me, and I can just say I have to use the phone real quick. I can step out and come right back in. Or just come at 11 on my lunch break. But I would prefer it before then.”

“What was the name of your school again?” the informant can be heard asking Prince.

“It’s Jacksonville Heights Elementary, it’s on 103rd. Now, I don’t get my kids until 8:30, so I’m in my room by myself from 8 to 8:30,” Prince says in response.

Prince was arrested and charged with possession of methamphetamine. She was transported to the Clay County Jail.

Deputies say she admitted to using meth 10 times within the last five to six months.

The Duval County Public School System released a statement on Prince’s arrest:

“We’ve become aware that one of our teachers, Valerie Lee Prince, was recently arrested by the Clay County Sheriff’s Office.

“Prince has been a teacher at Jacksonville Heights Elementary School since the 2018-19 school year. She has not taught at any other school in the district.

“The school district’s office of professional standards will conduct an independent investigation. During the course of the investigation, Prince will be removed from the school. If she is able to return to work, she will be assigned to duties that have no contact with children.

“It is always disappointing and disturbing whenever an educator is implicated in this type of activity. As a district, we have very high standards for teachers and all employees, and every day thousands of teachers are going beyond the call of duty to serve children and families. The alleged behavior falls well short of our standards. We will conduct our investigation, and take action as appropriate based on the conclusion of that investigation.”

Photos: Clay County Sheriff’s Office

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