An elementary school principal who was caught on camera paddling a 6-year-old girl did not commit a crime, according to officials.
The child’s mother recorded Melissa Carter, the principal at Central Elementary School in Clewiston, Florida, on April 13, striking the child three times with a wooden paddle after the child damaged a school computer.
Now the State Attorney’s Office has said that using a paddle to spank a child does not cause “great bodily harm,” or amount to child abuse, according to Wink News.
The child’s mother said she was called to the school to pay for the damage her child had caused to a school computer but on arrival she was brought to the principal’s office where she found her child, Carter, and Cecilia Self, a school clerk who was reportedly acting as a translator.
Cecilia Self told authorities that the child’s mother said her daughter was damaging things at her home too. She said the child’s mother requested the school spank her daughter, but she was told she needed to be present for the spanking, as per Wink News.
According to both Carter and Self, the child’s mother went to the school and made the request.
While corporal punishment is legal in 19 states, including Florida, it is not allowed in the Hendry County School District where the incident took place.
But, under school policy, teachers are allowed to paddle students if the parent is present, according to a memo released by the Office of the State Attorney’s Office for the Twentieth Judicial Circuit, which covers Hendry County.
Prosecutors said the mother knew about the paddling, and wrote in their review “a parent has a right to use corporal punishment to discipline their children, and similarly has the right to consent that others do so on their behalf,” according to the article.
Officials dismissed a suggested charge of aggravated battery, writing “it is clear using a paddle to spank a child is not likely to cause death or great bodily harm.”
The family’s attorney Brent Probinksy said he was disappointed by the decision.
“The family and I as their lawyer are very disappointed that the State Attorney, Amira Fox, did not criminally charge the school principal and her assistant who savagely beat this innocent 6-year-old with a paddle for merely scratching a computer,” Probinksy said in a statement to Wink News.
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