Charges dropped after teacher accused of striking child completes pre-trial program


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ST. CROIX - An elementary school teacher arrested on assault charges after reports that she hit a student has completed a pre-trial intervention program at the V.I. Superior Court and avoided a trial and possible conviction.

Merancienne Randolph, a sixth-grade teacher at Alexander Henderson Elementary School, was arrested in April 2013 and charged with simple assault and battery and disturbance of the peace after reports were made to police that actions she took to discipline a child were excessive.

Police said that she unlawfully used corporal punishment against a child when she hit the girl with a music conductor's baton, causing visible injuries on the child's skin.

According to Education Department officials, at the time of Randolph's arrest, she already had been reprimanded for her actions and allowed to return to the classroom.

Randolph pleaded not guilty to the charges at her arraignment and was scheduled for a bench trial, but she later was recommended to participate in the program that allowed her to avoid the possibility of a criminal conviction.

According to the order signed by Magistrate Jessica Gallivan, Randolph was ordered to enroll in and successfully complete anger management classes and pay an administrative fee of $200. At the end of her six-month diversion period, Randolph was ordered to pay $75 court cost.

With the successful completion of all the conditions, the case was dismissed.

According to the affidavit in support of the warrant for Randolph's arrest, V.I. Police Officer Lydia Figueroa said the student's mother reported to police that when she picked her daughter up from school, the girl said that Randolph had hit her on her back and on her hand for using profanity in the classroom.

The mother told police that she saw swollen red marks on the girl's hands and back.

Figueroa said the girl gave police a written statement about the incident and said that she was in the classroom when she used a bad word, and Randolph pulled out her wooden baton and hit the girl three times on her hand and once on her back, telling the student that she needs to watch her mouth and stop cursing.

Figueroa said that days after the incident, she went to talk with Randolph at the school, and the teacher gave a written statement stating that she heard the girl use profanity and called her over and told her she was disrespectful. Randolph told police that she gave the girl two lashes on her upper arm and said that it was the first time that she disciplined any of her students and left visible marks.

- Contact reporter Fiona Stokes at 714-9149 or email fstokes@dailynews.vi.

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