BRUSLY — An elementary school teacher here is accused of false imprisonment and cruelty to juveniles over an incident last month in which she was accused of manhandling a female student, then barring the rest of the class from leaving her classroom because the child was being disobedient.
Melissa Blank, 467 W. Main St., was booked on Feb. 21 into the West Baton Rouge Parish Jail on 15 counts of false imprisonment, and one count of cruelty to juveniles and simple battery.
West Baton Rouge Parish Schools Superintendent Wesley Watts confirmed on Friday that Blank, 37, was still employed by the school district but said she has been moved from Brusly Elementary to Lukeville Upper Elementary School, which is also in Brusly.
Watts declined answering further questions related to the Feb. 7 incident because it is a personnel matter.
According to an arrest warrant The Advocate obtained on Friday, an investigation into the matter was sparked by an adult witness who was in the classroom at the time and filed a complaint describing what happened to the Brusly Police Department.
It was not clear from the police report why the witness was present in the classroom when the incident happened, but the witness told witness told police the incident occurred around 9:45 a.m. Feb. 7 during Blank’s math class.
Blank was asking her students to complete a math problem and one of the children wasn’t paying attention so Blank yelled at her, the warrant for Blank’s arrest states, apparently drawing from the witness’s account.
The child became upset and swatted the learning materials Blank was using for instruction that day, the report says. Blank then walked up to the student and swung the child around to face her before grabbing the child by the face/neck and pushing the student against the closet doors, the witness told police.
The witness said Blank yelled, “You aren’t going to touch my things, you aren’t going to act like this!”
When the child continued to disobey her request, the witness told police, Blank started pinching the child’s shoulder, bruising the child’s skin.
The arrest warrant states the witness to the incident tried to intervene to remove the student from the class but was told by Blank that “she needs to learn she can’t act like this and she’s not going to touch my things!”
The witness claims Blank then used three chairs to block the door so no one could leave. The police report does not say how long the students were kept in the classroom.
Blank did not return a phone call Friday seeking comment.