High school teacher Caroline Lee of Jacksonville, Florida, was arrested Friday and charged with child abuse two days after she was nominated Teacher of the Year at the Darnell-Cookman Middle/High school, multiple sources reported.
#DEVELOPING: This teacher was named Darnell-Cookman ‘Teacher of the Year’ 2 days ago. Tonight she is in jail and charged with child abuse.
— Robert Grant (@RobertANJax) October 30, 2021
Lee pulled a student out of class Friday morning to speak privately, bringing the student to an empty classroom where she allegedly hit and kicked the student, NBC News reported. Lee was heard shouting at the student, and school surveillance videos reportedly showed the student emerging from the room minutes later with her hands over her face and a “low demeanor,” according to The Florida Times-Union.
Police confirmed that the victim sustained facial injuries including a bloody nose, according to a Duval Schools Police report. (RELATED: Ohio Teacher Charged With Compelling Prostitution With Minor)
Lee was named teacher of the year in an Instagram post on which the student commented, asking if Lee was the teacher who used the N-word in class, Fox 13 reported. Lee responded, saying that she used the slur in the context of reading “Of Mice and Men” in class, but the student remained unsatisfied, Fox 13 reported.
Lee told police she interpreted the student’s comment as a death threat, but that she did not feel it necessary to report the perceived threat, according to Fox 13. After the student denied threatening Lee when the two spoke in-person, Lee allegedly struck her in the face, causing a nosebleed. Lee allegedly continued to strike the student on the head, kicking her and calling her an expletive, according to a police report, NBC News reported.
School principal Tyrus Lyles called the incident “disappointing” in a letter to parents. Lee was relieved of her teaching duties and will not return until the conclusion of judicial and internal procedures, Lyles stated, the Times-Union reported.
Duval Schools Superintendent Diana Greene called the situation “beyond disturbing,” according to the Times-Union.
Lee denied doing physical harm to the student who reported the alleged incident to school authorities, Fox 13 reported.
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