A Louisiana special education teacher was arrested and accused of abusing two of her young, autistic students.

According to court documents, Melissa Lacomb from Monroe physically abused 4-year-old students at Madison James Foster Elementary School on Oct. 3. She is charged with two counts of felony cruelty to juveniles, KNOE reported.

The first alleged incident involved a 4-year-old autistic student who was hit with a ruler on the right thigh by Lacomb. The second incident involved a different 4-year-old autistic student who was left in a bathroom for about 30 minutes. The child could be heard screaming and crying, the report said. Two separate incidents were reported to the school’s principal by the same employee.

In a statement, Monroe City School Superintendent Dr. Brent Vidrine said, “On any report of potential abuse, we contact the Monroe Police Department immediately to have the police conduct the investigation. The teacher has been placed on leave pending the outcome of the investigation.”

According to the city’s corporal punishment policy, teachers do have the right to use corporal punishment on students, but there are some guidelines. The students, called “exceptionalities,” are exempt from corporal punishment. That designation includes students who are autistic.

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