A physical education teacher at a Southeast Washington junior high school was arrested and charged yesterday with simple assault for allegedly striking a 15-year-old girl during a class last week, D.C. police and school officials reported.

James Keith Melbourne, 30, a teacher at Sousa, who lives in Takoma Park, went to the Sixth District police station yesterday morning after he learned that police had issued a warrant for his arrest, police said.

According to a police affidavit filed in D.C. Superior Court in support of a warrant for Melbourne's arrest, the student told police that about 10:30 a.m. Oct. 24, while in Melbourne's class, she had asked for permission to go to the bathroom and that Melbourne had refused her request.

When she tried to leave the class without permission, Melbourne blocked the exit, and when she attempted to walk under his arm, he "grabbed her by the ponytail and pulled her back into the classroom," according to the affidavit.

"He then struck her on the right hand side of her face with his fist, breaking her eyeglasses and causing bruises to her eye and right cheek," the affidavit states.

Maurice Sykes, assistant director of communications for D.C. public schools, said that Melbourne has been detailed from the school, at 37th Street and Ely Place SE, to the regional superintendent's office pending an investigation of the allegations.