‘Teacher of the Year’ Arrested for Child Abuse Just Days after Winning Award
Florida teacher charged with abusing student at Darnell-Cookman Middle/High School
A "Teacher of the Year" has been arrested in Florida on charges of abusing a child student, just days after receiving the coveted award.
60-year-old Caroline Melanie Lee was arrested Friday for allegedly striking a minor in the face.
The attack reportedly left the unidentified student with a nosebleed.
The assault came after the student posted a message on Instagram questioning the teacher's selection for the prestigious honor.
Lee has denied striking the Darnell-Cookman Middle/High School student.
The Florida Times-Union described the troubling allegations from a student, citing the arrest report.
The alleged incident occurred after some Instagram commenters questioned Lee being tapped for the honor, the paper reported.
One issue that was raised was Lee’s use of the N-word in class, the report said.
Lee brushed off the criticism and said she only used the word while reading from John Steinbeck’s 1937 classic "Of Mice and Men."
The paper, citing a police report, said Lee requested to speak privately to the student— who was not in her classes.
It was during the meeting that the student claims Lee struck her multiple times, the report said.
Citing police, the outlet reported Lee told officers it was the student’s word against her own.
The teacher reportedly told police she believed the post could be a threat to her life.
But, she added, she was "not afraid" and "did not feel the need" to report the message to staff.
School surveillance video showed Lee "walking at an aggressive pace" to her classroom before the incident and the student, about four minutes later, leaving the classroom holding her face and walking with a "low demeanor" to a guidance counselor’s office, where she reported the incident, the responding officer said in the report.
The Duval Schools Superintendent Diana Greene said in a statement obtained by the paper that "what is alleged should never occur — ever — especially in a school setting."
Police arrested Lee on a child abuse charge, the paper said.