A Florida educator was busted for child abuse two days after being named Teacher of the Year — for allegedly hitting a student who criticized her getting the award, according to police.
High School English teacher Caroline Melanie Lee, 60, was proudly hailed for her achievement by the Duval County Public Schools last Wednesday, according to Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office.
She was then arrested Friday, accused of hitting a female pupil in the face and leaving her with a bloody nose, the arrest report said.
Lee allegedly demanded the pupil come to her office after she read a comment thread on the Instagram post that challenged her new award, accusing her of using the N-word in classes.
The pupil — who was not identified because she is a juvenile — was too terrified to go to Lee’s office, she told investigators.
But the teacher stormed into her classroom and demanded she leave with her, the police report said, with surveillance showing the teacher “walking ahead … at an aggressive pace,” the affidavit said.
Once alone in Lee’s classroom, the teacher shut the door — and then “reached across the table and struck her on her face with the heel of her palm,” the girl told investigators.
“Lee then began repeatedly calling her a ‘f—ing bitch’ as she landed several more strikes on the top of her head” and also “kicked her on her lower leg,” she told officers.
Surveillance footage shows the girl holding her face as she went straight to report the alleged attack to the school’s guidance counselor, the report said.
Lee admitted being in the classroom, but denied hitting the girl — and “could not explain the bloody nose,” officers said. She also admitted using the N-word in classes, but only while reading it in John Steinbeck’s “Of Mice and Men,” the arrest warrant said.
High school principal Tyrus Lyles wrote to parents Friday about the “very disappointing” arrest of a teacher “for child abuse.”
“Even more disappointing, the teacher arrested is our recent teacher of the year nominee,” Lyles wrote.
“The teacher has been removed from the classroom and will not return, pending the judicial and internal procedures,” the principal wrote.
District Superintendent Dr. Diana Greene called the allegation “beyond disturbing.”
“What is alleged should never occur — ever — especially in a school setting,” Greene said.
“I have no tolerance for adults who harm children, especially adults in a position of trust.
“We will cooperate with all investigations, and pending those results, we will take the actions necessary to stand up for and protect our students.”