Teacher of the year allegedly attacked student in violent dispute over N-word

An educator who was named Teacher of the Year at her school last week was arrested for allegedly hitting a student in the face after the girl claimed on social media that the teacher had said the "N-word" during class.

Caroline 'Melanie' Lee, 60, handed herself into jail on a child abuse charge on Friday and made her initial court appearance on Saturday.

The 60-year-old from Florida was arrested after calling a student into her classroom for a private chat and allegedly striking her on the face.

Lee left the minor with a bloody nose, according to The Florida Times-Union.

She has been barred from making any contact with the victim and has been ordered to stay away from her in school.

The alleged confrontation was instigated by an Instagram post by Duval County Public Schools calling Lee "Teacher of the Year" at Darnell-Cookman Middle/High School, according to the police report.

Multiple comments on the post questioned the choice, with one user saying: "isnt (sic) this the teacher who thought it was ok to say the n word while reading smth (sic) for educational purposes….."

The teacher replied that she only used the slur in the context of discussing John Steinbeck's book Of Mice and Men.

The student then shot back that saying the word "in anyway (sic) doesnt (sic) make it any better."

On Friday (29 Oct) Lee asked to speak to the student who made the comment about her using the racial slur in private during school hours.

She claims that Lee closed the door behind her when she arrived to the classroom, before reaching over the table and hitting the girl in the face with the heel of her palm, says the police report.

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The 5-foot-2 teacher allegedly then continued to hit her on the head as she called her a "f***ing b****," News4Jax reported.

The girl claims she then tried to escape the grasp of her teacher, only for Lee to allegedly kick the child in the leg and tell her to "get out".

Lee has denied physically harming the student and told a police officer that she only wanted to talk to the girl whose Instagram message she perceived as "a threat to kill her".

But she said she was "not afraid" and "did not feel the need" to report the message to staff.

The 60-year-old teacher couldn't explain how the girl got a bloody nose.

CCTV inside the school showed Lee "walking at an aggressive pace" to her classroom before the incident.

About four minutes later the student can be seen leaving the classroom holding her face and walking with a "low demeanour" to a counsellors office where she reported the incident.

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Duval Schools Superintendent Diana Greene said that the allegation was "beyond disturbing" and that schools officials will cooperate with all investigations.

"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," he said in a statement.

Lee was released from jail on Saturday without bond.

She is due back in court on November 22.

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