Florida teacher charged with abuse days after school honors

A Florida educator was arrested for child abuse of a student just two days after being named the school’s teacher of the year.

Caroline “Melanie” Lee, 60, faces a child abuse charge after her arrest Friday, according to inmate files at the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office.

Lee was arrested after calling a student to her class to speak privately and allegedly punching the student in the face, according to the Florida Times-Union, citing a Duval Schools police report.

The confrontation was sparked by an Instagram post from Duval County Public Schools on Wednesday that Lee was named Darnell-Cookman Middle / High Teacher of the Year, according to the police report.

Several comments on the post called the victory into question, and on Friday Lee asked to speak to one of the students who made the comments. When the student arrived in Lee’s classroom, the student said, Lee reached over the table and punched her several times, causing her nose to bleed, according to the police report.

Lee denied physically harming the student, telling a police officer she only wanted to speak to the student whose Instagram post she perceived as “a threat to kill her.” the need ”to report the message to staff.

Surveillance video from the school showed Lee “walking at an aggressive pace” to his classroom before the incident and the student, about four minutes later, leaving the classroom holding his face and walking with him. “low demeanor” up to a guidance counselor’s office, where she reported the incident, said the officer who responded in the report.

There were no court records yet filed online with the Duval County Court Clerk, so it was not known if Lee had an attorney.

Duval Schools Superintendent Diana Greene said in a statement that the allegation was “beyond disturbing” and that school officials would cooperate with all investigations.

“What is alleged should never happen – ever – especially in a school setting,” Greene said. “I have no tolerance for adults who harm children, especially adults in a position of trust.”

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