A Florida State’s Attorney found no wrongdoing relating to a disturbing viral video which showed an elementary school principal paddling a six-year-old child.
The video, taken by the child’s mother, shows an April 13 incident where Central Elementary School Principal Melissa Carter, with the add of a staff member Celia Self, stuck a child on her buttocks several times. The young girl was accused of accumulating $50 worth of damage on a school computer.
Outlets have not released the name of the mother or the child because of the girl’s age and for safety reasons.
According to CNN, who obtained a memo released to the Clewiston Police Department, Florida Deputy Chief Assistant State Attorney Abraham R. Thornburg concluded that Carter committed no crime.
Thornburg said that the mother, whose primary language is Spanish, was informed in her native tongue that paddling was an available punishment and chose instead to consent to school administrators. According to Thornburg, the mother was contacted by school authorities over the computer damage and stated she observed her daughter damaging materials at home and was afraid to discipline her child over fear that her daughter would report her to police.
“A parent has the right to use corporal punishment to discipline their children, and similarly has the right to consent that others do so on their behalf,” Thornburg’s memo said.
Thornburg also claimed law enforcement officials attempted to reach the mother with no avail, but instead spoke with local media.
However, an attorney for the child’s family said that the use of corporal punishment went against the school district’s policy. The lawyer previously argued that because of her immigration status and the language barrier, the child’s mother misunderstood what was going to transpire when she was contacted by school officials.
Much of Thornburg’s assessment seems to take these matters into account, especially around the mother’s hesitancy to talk to law enforcement.
“The principal, Melissa Carter, and her assistant, Celia Self, who held down and severely paddled this six-year-old first grader, violated the clearly written rule of the Hendry County School District and the laws of the State of Florida,” Probinsky said.
He said the actions taken by the school officials was “illegal and a criminal battery.”