CLEARWATER, Fla. - Melanie Jo Fox, an ESE teacher accused of abusing special needs students at Skycrest Elementary School, made her first appearance in court today.
When she appeared before a Pinellas County judge, she told her she didn't do it. Fox said, "I've never been in trouble, nine years of my teaching career. I never had a problem. These are strictly allegations."
She also expressed concern for her kids, who are now alone, while she's behind bars. Fox said, "I'm a single parent of two children and there's no one to take care of them. Their father's on vacation and I wanted to see if I could get ROR."
Fox is accused of pulling a six-year-old girl's hair, hitting her with a book and binding the child's hands with tape. Investigators say she also pushed an eight-year-old boy down and bound his hands with a rubber band.
Cotie Andrade is the mother of one of the alleged victims. She says she has no doubt Fox abused her son since January. Andrade said, "What he did was right and letting us know that his bully that he's been telling me about for two months is obviously the bully that's behind bars today."
Catherine Baggette disagrees. Fox taught her daughter for several years. Baggette said, "She's a good person to society. She's a very good advocate for special needs children. If I didn't have her as Alexis' teacher, Alexis wouldn't be where she is today."
The judge set Fox's bond at $20,000. She's to have no contact with schools or minors.
The Pinellas County School District released a statement that reads in part, "The district had moved Ms. Fox to a non-student site earlier this week following an investigation, which is still underway. She has no prior disciplinary actions on her record."
Fox has been a teacher in Pinellas County since 2004.