A 43-year-old teacher at a Southeast Washington elementary school was charged yesterday with taking indecent liberties with a 10-year-old girl student in his class.

Roy Lee Alston, a teacher at Moten Elementary School, at Morris and Evans roads SE, was presented in D.C. Superior Court on a single count of taking indecent liberties with a minor child. He had surrendered to authorities at police headquarters earlier in the day.

A warrant for Alston's arrest was issued Friday after school officials asked that police investigate the alleged incident, authorities said. According to a police affidavit in the court file, the student complained to Moten's principal about an incident Jan. 26 in which Alston allegedly unbuttoned her blouse and fondled her after detaining her inside the classroom while other students were at lunch.

Alston and school officials declined comment on the charge.

According to court documents, Alston has been a teacher in the D.C. schools for 12 years.

According to the police account in the court file, Alston asked the student to stay behind her classmates who had left for lunch, locked the door, and then approached her.

The girl later joined her classmates in the school lunchroom, where she started to cry, the police account said. She related the alleged incident to others. Classmates took her to the principal's office where she repeated the allegations.

Alston appeared on the charge before Commissioner Evelyn E.C. Queen, who ordered Alston released on his personal recognizance and scheduled a preliminary hearing for March 2.

Queen ordered Alston to stay away from the pupil and instructed a federal prosecutor to notify school officials so they could either remove the student from Alston's class or place Alston on leave, she said.

If convicted, Alston could be sentenced to 10 years in prison on the charge.

Last September, Moten was the focus of widespread parental concern when a student reported that she had been raped there. At least 200 parents volunteered to patrol the school's hallways. Later, the report proved to be false.

Nevertheless, as a result of the concern, school principal Valerie S. Green responded to the report by instituting new security measures, including a requirement that students never be alone in hallways and washrooms.