A Florida teacher recently named the Teacher of the Year at Darnell-Cookman Middle/High in Jacksonville has been arrested and charged with a count of child abuse against a student at the school.
The English teacher, Caroline Melanie Lee, was arrested on Friday following a student's report that Lee called her into a classroom to speak privately and then allegedly struck her on the face, according to a police report.
The minor was reportedly hit so hard in the face that she suffered a bloody nose. Police responding to the incident were told by Lee, the student, and other witnesses that the confrontation began with a conversation about an Instagram post from this past week.
On Wednesday, the Duval County Public Schools Instagram account posted about Lee being named the school's Teacher of the Year, but it was met with comments questioning the win.
The report said some of the comments asked if Lee was the same teacher who used the "N-word" and claimed that she committed microaggressions against students.
The original post and comments have been deleted.
The comment about Lee using the "N-word" was regarding her teaching of the novel "Of Mice and Men" in class, she explained to an officer on Friday.
The English teacher asked the student to talk privately on Friday in her classroom, despite the student not being a part of any of her classes, the report said.
The student reportedly told police that when she walked into the class, Lee reached across the table and struck her several times, the report said.
The officer wrote in the arrest report that Lee acknowledged the conflict was the student's word against her own. However, Lee denied doing anything physical against the student, and she said she only wanted to talk to her because she thought a message on Instagram was "a threat to kill her."
However, she told police that she was "not afraid" of the situation and "did not feel the need" to report the message to her staff.
School surveillance footage did show Lee heading to her classroom at "an aggressive pace," and then four minutes later, leaving the classroom, the student was seen holding her face and walking with a "low demeanor" to the guidance counselor who she told about the incident, police said.
Police received conflicting reports from Lee that she left her door open when speaking with the student, as another student decorating the teacher's door said she asked him to leave and then close the door behind him.
The student told police that he had heard Lee raise her voice as he was standing near her door in the hallway.
The morning after police spoke with the student victim, the teacher, and four witnesses, Lee was arrested.
The school’s principal and district’s superintendent shared that Lee’s position is pending the judicial findings and an internal investigation.