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West Feliciana teacher accused of slapping, taking food from first-grader arrested, posts bail

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ST. FRANCISVILLE, Louisiana — Sheriff's deputies say a first-grade teacher accused of striking a student during lunch at Bains Lower Elementary School in St. Francisville has been arrested.

The Advocate reports (http://bit.ly/1KnxsEW ) the West Feliciana Parish Sheriff's Office issued an arrest warrant for the teacher, Chanel Lemelle, 31, on Thursday after witnesses reported seeing Lemelle allegedly berate, kick and slap a first-grade student on Jan. 23 and take some of the boy's lunch food.

Erin Foster, a sheriff's office spokeswoman, said Lemelle, of Baton Rouge, was booked Monday on one count of cruelty to juveniles. Foster said Lemelle posted $20,000 bail and was released.

"She's very sad that this is going on," Don Cazayoux, Lemelle's attorney, said Monday. "She loves teaching, loves her students and would never do anything to hurt any of her children."

School officials said Lemelle, who worked for the school district for about 10 years, resigned last week.

A sheriff's deputy who reviewed camera footage of the incident wrote in an arrest report that as the student walked by Lemelle in the school's cafeteria, she could be seen kicking him in the rear. The video also showed her slapping the boy on the back of the head, the deputy wrote.

Lemelle also is accused of taking some of the boy's lunch food, allegedly telling the first-grader that "he only needed one taco," the report says.

Witnesses told the deputy that Lemelle often brought an empty plate to lunch and filled it with food from her students. The witnesses also recounted the incident as it appeared to the deputy on video footage, the report says.


Information from: The Advocate, http://theadvocate.com

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