A Florida elementary school principal caught paddling a 6-year-old girl in a viral video secretly filmed by the student’s mother is now the subject of a police investigation, according to Fox 4.
Melissa Carter, the principal of Clewiston Central Elementary School, hit the whining child at least three times from the back with a wooden paddle after a school worker identified as Cecilia Self held the girl against a table, reported WINK, a CBS affiliate in Fort Meyers. The beatings were reportedly intended to punish $ 50 in damage to a computer.
Corporal punishment is legal in Florida, but prohibited in the Hendry County School District, where Central Elementary is located, Fox 4 reported.
Clewiston’s unidentified mother, who said she was summoned to school to pay for computer damage, said she surreptitiously turned on her cell phone camera because she hadn’t seen any surveillance camera in the office with the manager and the clerk.
“No one would have believed me,” the mother told WINK.
“The hatred with which she hit my daughter, I mean it was a hatred that, really, I never hit my daughter like she hit her,” the girl’s mother told the Channel television in Spanish. “I had never hit her.
The Clewiston Police Department and the Children and Family Department are investigating, according to WINK. The state attorney’s office is considering criminal charges against Clark and the clerk, a family lawyer said.
“The child is terrified, she feels vulnerable,” lawyer Brent Probinsky said. “She can do nothing in the hands of these adults, who have treated her so brutally, savagely, sadistically.
Probinsky told CBS News the mother was afraid to step in because she felt intimidated. The mother said part of her fear was that she was undocumented, the network noted.
A person from the elementary central office told HuffPost that the principal was not at work on Monday, but would not comment. The school district, police and the family’s attorney did not immediately respond to requests for comment from HuffPost.
In 2016, then-US Secretary of Education John B. King Jr. called for a ban on corporal punishment, but it persists in some places to this day. King called it obsolete and said that “educators, civil rights activists, medical professionals and researchers agree that it is harmful to students and that the data shows us a unequivocal impact on students of color and students with disabilities.
Commenting on a 2019 study on corporal punishment, Zoe Savitsky, then deputy legal director of the Southern Poverty Law Center, said: “It also destroys a child’s trust in educators, which hurts learning relationships. Quite simply, corporal punishment has no place in schools. “
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