BRUSLY, La. (BRPROUD) – Two paraprofessional educators at Brusly Middle School face accusations of abuse involving special needs students.
Melissa Lewis, 57, of Port Allen was booked into the West Baton Rouge Parish Jail on Wednesday, May 24. Lewis turned herself in and was charged with cruelty to juveniles and simple battery, according to the Brusly Police Department.
A second educator, Catherine Vance, 69, of Port Allen, was issued a summons for simple battery on Thursday, May 25.
The principal at Brusly Middle School was notified of the allegations on Monday, May 1. The Brusly Police Department interviewed multiple witnesses during the investigation.
The nurse and adapted physical education teacher reportedly “said that Lewis refused to assist with removing a student in a wheelchair to allow the child to change position and stretch on his own,” according to the affidavit.
Per a witness, one student was kept on her knees in a corner for more than an hour before lunch, then put back on her knees after getting food and kept there for an undetermined amount of time.
Another witness stated that Lewis “verbally and physically abused 2 special education girls with sarcasm, ridicule, denigrating statements and yelling.” Lewis also was accused of pulling the braids of one student while moving her around. Lewis reportedly struck a student with rulers, which led to the student crying.
A final witness said she witnessed Vance slap a student “as well as the verbal and physical abuse by Lewis,” according to the affidavit.
Lewis bonded out of the West Baton Rouge Jail on Wednesday, May 24.