Florida is one of 19 states that permits corporal punishment, but the practice is prohibited in the school district

By Harriet Sokmensuer
May 04, 2021 03:35 PM
Clewiston principal
Credit: GMA

A Florida elementary school principal is being investigated after a video of her paddling a 6-year-old girl surfaced online.

Clewiston Police are investigating Melissa Carter, principal of Central Elementary School, for paddling a student in front of her mother to punish her, a police spokesperson tells PEOPLE.

The incident occurred on April 13, when the girl's mother received a call from the school saying her daughter had damaged a computer. The mother was asked to pay $50 for the damage, local station WINK reports.

When she arrived at the school, the mother was taken to Carter's office, where her daughter, Carter and a clerk at school, were waiting.

"My daughter was already in the office," the girl's mother told WINK in Spanish. "The principal started to scream."

The mother, who has not been identified to protect her privacy, began to get nervous.

"There are no cameras," she said. "What are we doing in this place? My daughter and I, alone."

That's when she hit record on her phone and filmed the paddling.

"Nobody would have believed me," she said, WINK reports. "I sacrificed my daughter, so all parents can realize what's happening in this school."

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While Florida is one of 19 states where corporal punishment, which includes paddling and spanking, is legal, the Hendry County District Schools policy does not permit it.

"That's aggravated battery," the family's attorney, Brent Probinsky, told WINK. "They're using a weapon that can cause severe physical, harm."

On April 14, Clewiston police received a call from Hendry Regional Medical Center staff "requesting an officer be dispatched to a complaint of a child with injuries accompanied by the child's mother who requested a police report," states a police press release.

The Department of Children and Families and the Hendry County Sheriff's Office were provided information about the incident.

Probinsky did not immediately return PEOPLE's request for comment Tuesday. A spokesperson from the school district declined comment to PEOPLE, citing an ongoing investigation.