BENTON, La. -- A Bossier Parish teacher arrested on child-desertion charges involving her 3-year-old daughter should not face criminal charges, the district attorney concluded after reviewing the case, which has played out amid a contentious child-custody dispute.
Danielle Chandler, a teacher at Legacy Elementary, vehemently disputed the charges filed last November, saying her child was never left unsupervised and that she did not have a drinking problem. School system officials who investigated the case and reinstated Chandler days after her arrest called it a “domestic situation” involving Chandler and her ex-husband, who went to court seeking custody of the child in the wake of the arrest.
“Our office will not initiate formal prosecution (of Chandler) for that arrest in 2020,” Bossier District Attorney Schuyler Marvin said in a one-paragraph letter to the Bossier Parish Sheriff’s Office, the arresting agency. Marvin did not elaborate on the decision to reject the charges.
Chandler, 36, was arrested Nov. 8 at her home north of Bossier City. Sheriff’s deputies said they received a welfare-concern call from the child’s father, Matt Faulkner, went to Chandler’s house and found her intoxicated and decided to arrest her.
Chandler declined comment on the district attorney’s decision.
Supporters of Chandler, who spoke on condition they not be identified because she had not authorized them to speak on her behalf, acknowledged Chandler had been drinking that night but the daughter was never left alone and the desertion charges were overblown. Other adults were present when Chandler and the daughter were at a neighbor’s house and Chandler’s boyfriend was with her when they returned home, the supporters said.
In a court filing seeking emergency custody of the child two days after Chandler’s arrest, her ex-husband said he got a face time call from his 3-year-old daughter that night that there was something wrong with Chandler. The ex-husband, who alleged she passed out from drinking, called 911. Deputies said they decided to file charges and turned the child over to the father, a former Bossier City police officer.
A Bossier District Court judge who reviewed an immediate change-of-custody request two days after Chandler’s arrest refused to take the child from her mother. A custody hearing is scheduled March 18 in Bossier District Court on whether to grant the father’s request he become the custodial parent and child support be modified.
In a court filing responding to Faulkner’s effort to get custody of the child, Chandler’s attorney said Faulkner’s 911 call that led to her arrest was in retaliation for a complaint she filed in 2018 that led to his arrest for domestic violence. Faulkner was acquitted of those charges.