‘Teacher of the year’ in Florida charged with child abuse against student

Incident allegedly sparked by argument over ‘Of Mice and Men’ book

Graeme Massie
Los Angeles
Monday 01 November 2021 23:24
<p>‘Teacher of the year’ in Florida charged with child abuse against student</p>

‘Teacher of the year’ in Florida charged with child abuse against student

A Florida educator who was recently named “Teacher of the Year” was arrested for child abuse just two days after being given the award.

Caroline “Melanie” Lee, 60, allegedly asked a female student to her classroom to speak privately and hit her across the face, states a Duval Schools Police report.

Ms Lee now faces a charge of felony child abuse following her arrest, according to Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office jail inmate records.

The confrontation was allegedly sparked by comments made on an Instagram post Duval County Public Schools made to recognise Ms Lee’s award at Darnell-Cookman Middle/High school, the police report states.

One student asked on the post if she was the same teacher that had used a racial slur in a class, WTLV reported.

Ms Lee then wrote that she had used the slur in the context of a lesson about John Steinbeck’s 1937 book Of Mice and Men and summoned the student to meet with her.

Police say that when the student arrived at the classroom, Ms Lee hit her multiple times, giving her a bloody nose.

The suspect told police that she did not harm the student, and that she wanted to discuss the Instagram comment that she viewed as a “threat to kill her”, according to The Associated Press.

The teacher says that she was “not afraid” and had not felt the need to report the comments to staff.

After the student left the classroom, they reported the alleged incident to a school official and police were called.

Duval Schools Superintendent Diana Greene said that the allegations were “beyond disturbing” and that schools officials would cooperate with all investigations.

“What is alleged should never occur – ever – especially in a school setting,” Ms Greene said in a statement.

“I have no tolerance for adults who harm children, especially adults in a position of trust.”

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