By Brian McBride


A Poinciana elementary teacher was arrested and charged with child neglect on Saturday after her 4-year-old son was found wandering outside alone, crying and asking for help.

Polk County Sheriff’s Office deputies arrested Marsha Dolce, a 26-year old fourth-grade teacher from Laurel Elementary in Poinciana.

The arrest of followed an investigation after her 4-year-old child son was found wondering alone outside of her home on Village Way in Davenport on Saturday morning.

According to a Sheriff’s Office report, deputies responded to the apartment complex where Dolce resides on Saturday at about 6:49 a.m., due to the child crying outside, asking for help, and wearing only a T-shirt and underwear.

Dolce returned home at the apartment complex at about 7:51 a.m., and she told deputies that she left the house just before seven to help a friend whose car broke down.

During a search of the home, deputies discovered marijuana in a grinding device on the kitchen counter. A search through her cell phone revealed a text message sent to her at 2:32 a.m. that morning that gave an address in the Jan Phyl Village area of Winter Haven, and a text from Dolce’s phone at 3:21 a.m. that said, “I’m here,” according to the report.

After confronting Dolce about her text messages, she admitted to deputies that she made the story up about helping a friend with a broken-down car. She said that she wanted to get some marijuana, and because her son was asleep, so she assumed she could go to Winter Haven quickly to meet a friend named Dre and get some from him. She said that she and Dre returned to her home, had consensual sex, and she took him back to Winter Haven.

Dolce was charged with child neglect and possession of marijuana possession and drug paraphernalia. She was taken to the Polk County Jail. She has no prior criminal history.

The Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF) was contacted, and the child was removed from the home, and Dolce’s custody.