A Florida 'teacher of the year' was charged with child abuse after being accused of hitting a student days after receiving the award
Florida" teacherof the year" was charged with felony child abuse by Jacksonville police, days after receiving the award.
- A student called the teacher out for alleged use of the N-word in classes, according to the police report.
A Florida high school English teacher was arrested and charged with hitting a student in the face, two days after the teacher received a "Teacher of the Year" award, according to a police report obtained by Insider.
The conflict began when Caroline Melanie Lee, 60, received the award from Duval County Public Schools last Wednesday, and the school district posted the achievement to its Instagram page, the responding officer wrote in the report.
According to the Duval Schools Police report, an unnamed student commented on the recognition post and criticized Lee, accusing her of using the N-word in her classroom. The teacher later admitted to authorities that she did use the slur while reading from the novel "Of Mice and Men" in class, the report said.
Though the student in question was not in any of Lee's classes this year, the teacher requested to speak with the student in-person to discuss the Instagram comment, the Florida Times-Union reported.
According to the police report, the student told authorities that once inside Lee's classroom, the teacher reached across the table and hit her several times, causing her nose to bleed. Surveillance footage from the day of the incident reportedly shows Lee "walking at an aggressive pace" to her classroom with the student, as well as the student leaving the room minutes later holding her face and walking with a "low demeanor" to report the altercation to a guidance counselor.
Lee told the responding officer that she understood the incident was the student's word against her own, but denied physically assaulting the student. The teacher reportedly told authorities she had wanted to talk to the student about an Instagram message which she interpreted as a "threat to kill her," though she also said she had not been afraid, nor felt the need to report the comment to staff.
The teacher was arrested on Friday on a felony child abuse charge after the responding officer spoke to Lee, the unnamed student, and four witnesses, although nobody else was in the classroom at the time of the alleged incident.
Lee told Insider she was in a state of shock and "did not see this one coming," but declined to provide further comment, directing Insider to her lawyer, who did not immediately respond to a request for comment
A spokesperson for Duval County Public Schools said the school's principal, Tyrus Lyles called students' families to report the
Lyles told the community that Lee has been removed from the classroom and will not return, pending judicial and internal procedures.
"While our processes assume innocence, these allegations and the resulting arrest are obviously far below the standards and expectations we have for our school," Lyles said.
The Jacksonville Sheriff's Office confirmed that Duval County Public Schools made the initial arrest.
Duval Schools Superintendent Diana Greene told Insider that the allegations were "beyond disturbing."
"What is alleged should never occur - ever - especially in a school setting," Greene told the outlet. "I have no tolerance for adults who harm children, especially adults in a position of trust."
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