Chanel M. Lemelle, 31, a former first-grade teacher at Bains Lower Elementary School in St. Francisville, Louisiana, resigned after being accused of berating, kicking and slapping a student during a lunch break on Jan. 23.
West Feliciana Parish sheriff’s deputies issued an arrest warrant for Lemelle, who is being charged with one count of cruelty to juveniles. Several people witnessed the alleged incident in the school cafeteria, and it was also captured by surveillance cameras.
Lemelle’s father is a retired federal prosecutor and he deferred all questions to his daughter’s attorney, Don Cazayoux.
“She’s devastated,” Cazayoux told The Advocate. “She loves her students and she would never do anything intentionally to hurt any of them.”
Lemelle has yet to surrender to authorities, but “she has faith in the legal system,” Cazayoux said.
The footage appeared to show Lemelle kicking a student in the behind and slapping the boy on the back of the head, according to an incident report. Witnesses said Lemelle was "yelling at one student in particular in a loud and degrading manner because he was not walking like he was supposed to.”
Lemelle then allegedly ordered him to eat alone, and he was only allowed to get food after all of his classmates. She then reportedly took one of his two tacos and said “he only needed one taco.”
Lemelle’s post has been filled by a new teacher.