Florida principal seen paddling 6-year-old girl is under investigation, school says

A Florida principal is under investigation after a video went viral of her using a paddle to discipline a 6-year-old child in front of the child’s mother. 

Central Elementary School Principal Melissa Carter spanks the child multiple times with assistance from another school employee, NBC-2 reported. The child is crying and attempts to avoid the paddling before being hit again in the video. 

The child had allegedly damaged a school computer and her mother was called on April 13 to pay the fee, the New York Post reported. When the mother arrived at the school, she was sent to the principal’s office, where she found Carter, her daughter and the school clerk. 

A language barrier caused the mother to not understand what was taking place, and she filmed the incident, according to WINK-TV. 

A 6yo child in FL. was beaten by her school principal, in front of her mother, for damage she allegedly caused to a computer. ⚠️ this video is graphic. It’s infuriating, outrageous & shocking & the principal is now under criminal investigation. https://t.co/M3cIZeTMKapic.twitter.com/HPAcbYXlXe

“The hatred with which she hit my daughter, I mean it was a hatred that, really I’ve never hit my daughter like she hit her,” the mother told WINK News. 

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Florida law allows corporal punishment if it is approved by the school’s principal beforehand, “but approval is not necessary for each specific instance in which it is used,” the statute reads. “The principal shall prepare guidelines for administering such punishment which identify the types of punishable offenses, the conditions under which the punishment shall be administered, and the specific personnel on the school staff authorized to administer the punishment.” 

According to the Hendry County District Schools student handbook, any student who intentionally damages a school device is subject to disciplinary actions from verbal warnings to expulsion. There are no mentions of paddling or corporal punishment.

WINK-TV confirmed that the Department of Children and Families and the Clewiston Police Department are investigating the incident. The police department said it received a call April 14 requesting an officer to the Hendry Regional Medical Center in response to this incident. 

“The Clewiston Police Department takes all matters of child welfare seriously and remains committed to protecting the most vulnerable members of our community,” a press release read. 

A representative from the Hendry County School District told USA TODAY that the situation was under investigation. 

Follow reporter Asha Gilbert @Coastalasha. Email: agilbert@usatoday.com.

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