A woman who was recently named Teacher of the Year at a Florida school was charged Friday with child abuse.
A heavily redacted report from the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office said Caroline Lee, an instructor at Darnell Cockman School of Medical Arts, was arrested by Duval County School Police.
Lee, 60, was named Darnell-Cockman Teacher of the Year in October and would have competed with about 175 other teachers for this year’s Duval County Teacher.
When the district announced Lee’s nomination on its Instagram page, one student commented asking if she was the teacher who used racial slur in class last year, NBC affiliate WTLV reported in Jacksonville.
She wrote to me that she used slander during a class on “mice and men” and then called the student to talk to her on Friday.
The police report said that when Lee was alone with the student in her class, she closed the door and asked the student why she was threatening her in an online post. The report said that when the student said she hadn’t, Lee hit her with her palm. Police said Lee also hit the student in the leg.
The student reported the alleged assault to guidance counselors, who noted visible injuries, according to police.
The police report said Lee denied closing the door and physically harming the student. But she was arrested due to video evidence and the student’s apparent injuries.
As of Monday, prison records show that Lee is no longer in the custody of the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office. Efforts to reach Lee over the phone were unsuccessful.
The Duval School Board did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Nor did Tyros Lyles, the school’s principal, respond.
WTLV reported that in a letter to parents, Lyles said Lee had been removed from the classroom.
“Very disappointing, but I have to share with you that one of our teachers was arrested today on campus for child abuse,” Lyles wrote. “The most frustrating thing, though, is that the teacher who was arrested is our last teacher nominated for this year.”