Florida teacher resigns after sheriff reveals sex video chats with prisoner during school day

A Florida teacher quit this week after she was caught engaging in explicit video chats with her detained boyfriend from her desk during school hours, according to the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office.

Donna Barber, 52, a veteran Franklin County teacher, was told she would likely be fired and chose to quit instead.

The case came to light earlier this month after Franklin County Sheriff AJ Smith assigned a staff member to monitor inmates’ video chats at the local jail.

The Observer noted that Barber stripped naked during some of his correspondence with inmate Lawrence Ray and engaged in sexually explicit conversation.

Florida teacher Donna Barber quit this week over explicit video chats with inmate Lawrence Ray.

A video review of their previous calls revealed that Barber had similarly explicit video conference calls with Ray — some from his school desk during the workday, according to Smith.

The sheriff posted a video on Facebook outlining his concerns about inappropriate communications between prisoners and their visitors earlier this month, highlighting Barber’s case.

“I think parents have a right to know who is teaching their kids,” Smith told the Post. “That’s why I pulled this out.”


Florida teacher Donna Barber.
Barber, 52, was seen engaging in sexual conversation and stripping naked during her calls with inmate Lawrence Ray.
Donna Barbier/Linkedin

The Sheriff said he ultimately took down the video after it garnered more than 25,000 views due to inappropriate posts left in the comments section.

“Prison is not a vacation spot,” Smith added. “People in prison have to follow the rules, you have to have order. Otherwise you can have chaos and it can be dangerous for the staff who have to deal with the detainees.

Smith said an ex of Ray who was unaware of his relationship with Barber entered the chat at one point and the dialogue got out of hand.

While the local state attorney concluded there were no grounds for criminal prosecution, Barber’s employer launched an investigation after Smith released the video.

The school was initially unaware that the misconduct took place on campus and later expanded its investigation after learning it did.

Barber was told this week that the local school board would recommend firing, and she chose to resign instead.


Video of Florida teacher Donna Barber chatting with inmate Lawrence Ray.
Franklin County Sheriff AJ Smith posted screenshots of Barber’s interactions with Ray.

Screenshots posted by Smith show the two parties on a split screen, with Barber in his school office and Ray in a cafeteria with other inmates in the background.

Smith said prison video chats have become more common in recent years because they don’t require as many staff as in-person visits.

A school source said parents and staff had mixed feelings about Barber’s fate, noting she was a respected teacher set to retire after nearly 30 years.


Barber's school desk was clearly visible in some of the video footage.
Barber’s school desk was clearly visible in some of the video footage.
Franklin County Sheriff’s Office

But they also argued that corresponding with Ray the way she did from a school desk was unacceptable.

Those who videoconference with an inmate must agree to prison rules, which include language indicating that correspondence “may be monitored or recorded by the inmate’s correctional facility or by us…. Illegal or improper conduct by any manner, including indecent exposure, will not be tolerated.

It also says the video can be interrupted at any time by employees monitoring them if they feel they have crossed a line and become inappropriate.

The Franklin County State’s Attorney’s Office did not respond to a request for comment.

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