An elementary school teacher in rural Louisiana has quit her job and faces a pending arrest warrant over allegations that she slapped and kicked a first-grade boy during a lunch break.
The teacher is Chanel M. Lemelle. She had been a teacher at Bains Lower Elementary School in the tiny town of St. Francisville (pop: 1,760), reports The Advocate, a daily broadsheet out of Baton Rouge.
The incidents leading to Lemelle’s resignation and her arrest warrant occurred on Friday, Jan. 23 inside the cafeteria.
Witnesses say Lemelle struck the first grader upside the back of his head and kicked him in the rear end. Surveillance cameras in the cafeteria captured the action.
The degree of severity of the two blows is unclear.
Witnesses told a sheriff’s deputy that Lemelle was angry at the boy and scolded him “in a loud and degrading manner because he was not walking like he was supposed to.”
Lemelle then forced the student to sit while other students got their lunches. She finally allowed the boy to get food. When he returned, a police report alleges, Lemelle took one of his two tacos.
She then allegedly told the unidentified first-grade boy “he only needed one taco.”
Witnesses told the sheriff’s deputy that the incident wasn’t Lemelle’s first rodeo when it comes to seemingly awful behavior.
Witnesses reported seeing her screaming at the same kid in a hallway about a week before the taco incident. The first grader was crying at that time, the witnesses said.
Also, the teacher sometimes brought an empty plate to lunch and helped herself to food on students’ plates, according to The Advocate.
Lemelle is the daughter of J.S. “Stan” Lemelle, a retired federal prosecutor who served for a time as an interim U.S. attorney.
The teacher’s attorney, Don Cazayoux, another retired federal prosecutor, described his client as a devoted educator.
“She’s devastated,” Cazayoux told The Advocate. “She loves her students and she would never do anything intentionally to hurt any of them.”
Lemelle, who has taught in the local West Feliciana School District for approximately 10 years, faces a single count of cruelty to juveniles.
The school district said a new teacher has replaced her in her classroom.
Lemelle is not the first Louisiana teacher to land in hot water this year who happens to have a parent who is a notable legal figure in the state.
In September, Shelley St.Pierre Dufresne, a married, 32-year-old high school English teacher in the town of Destrehan, was arrested for having sex with a male teen student. Dufresne’s father is 29th Judicial District Judge Emile St. Pierre. (RELATED: English Teacher Arrested For Sex With 16-Year-Male Student)
Another English teacher at the same school — Rachel Respess — was also arrested for having sex with the same student, by the way. Police say the two teachers and the student hooked up in a threesome after a high school football game (which Destrehan won easily, 41-7). (RELATED: Destrehan High Teachers Victimized Male Student In THREESOME)