JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A second-grade teacher at Greenland Pines Elementary School was arrested Tuesday after she became enraged, combative and aggressive when told by administrators she was being reassigned.
According to the arrest report, Stephanie Leuluai refused to leave the school and ended up being pepper-sprayed after swatting, shoving, and screaming at a police officer.
Leuluai, 52, was charged with battery on a law enforcement officer and trespassing on school grounds. Police noted in the arrest report that school officials and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement were investigating and, due to the “severity of the case, she was being reassigned while the investigation continued.”
During the confrontation, the school was placed on Code Yellow, which kept students in their classrooms until the issue was resolved.
Leuluai bonded out of jail on Thursday.
Greenland Pines Principal Beverly Walker wrote to parents that police were called after the teacher “was exhibiting belligerent behavior toward administration” in the administrative office. Walker did not name the teacher in the email to parents.
“Thankfully, the incident was confined to the office and students and staff remained safe,” Walker wrote to parents. “Because of the high standards and expectations we have for our educators, I am very disappointed to share this news. But as our school partners, I feel it’s important that you are aware of what took place.”
Leuluai’s daughter said this behavior was totally out of character.
“My mom is gentle and kind and loving,” Salana Leuluai said. "That’s kind of different for my mom to act like that.
Leuluai’shusband of 28 years was in court for her first appearance hearing on the criminal charges. He said she is an outstanding teacher who loves what she does but mentioned he noticed a change in her behavior after she and her daughter were in a serious car crash in April.
Court records show Leuluai was arrested on a charge of domestic battery in June.
Leuluai had taught at Greenland Pines for since 2012 and worked with students with autism until this year when she began teaching a second-grade class. Personnel records News4Jax received from Duval County Public Schools show she was first hired as a substitute teacher in 2007 and started full time in 2010 teaching fifth grade at West Jacksonville Elementary School. The records show she was terminated in January 2011 “under a 97-day probationary rule.”
There is no mention in the 114 pages of her personnel file of what prompted Leuluai’s outburst Tuesday when she was told she was being reassigned.
Greenland Pines said Leuluai’s class will be covered by a substitute and work to find a long-term replacement.
“My staff and I will stay closely involved with this class to ensure that there is no gap in teaching and learning,” Walker wrote.
Walker asked anyone with questions to contact her at 904-260-5450.
“I am glad the situation was de-escalated and that the school acted accordingly to keep the kids safe,” said one parent who didn’t want to be named. "It is just sad all the way around.