Florida principal won’t be charged in paddling, and the family’s lawyer is disappointed

·1 min read

A principal who was recorded paddling a first-grade girl at a Clewiston, Florida, elementary school will not face criminal charges.

In the video shared widely on social media, the principal of Central Elementary School, Melissa Carter, is seen smacking the girl three times on the behind with a wooden paddle.

“Now calm down!” says Carter, who has been placed on administrative leave. “Calm down before you make yourself sick.”

The video was shot by the 6-year-old’s mother, who was present during the disciplinary action. After the incident, she contacted the Clewiston Police Department, which launched an investigation.

In an official report, Deputy Chief Assistant State Attorney Abraham R. Thornbury said no criminal charges were filed against Carter because she had a request from the girl’s mother to do what she did. The child was reportedly in trouble for causing $50 in damage to a computer screen.

“Both staff members appear to treat the child and her mother with respect throughout this process,” Thornbury said in the report, which also noted that in Florida, parents or legal guardians have the right to use corporal punishment on their children and to grant that right to others with their consent.

But while corporal punishment is legal in Florida, it is not permissible in the Hendry County School District, so Carter and the aide may still face disciplinary action.

In a statement to WINK News, family attorney Brent Probinksy said he was “disappointed” by the state attorney’s decision not to criminally charge Carter and the aide who “savagely beat this innocent 6-year-old with a paddle for merely scratching a computer.”

Neither the mother nor child were publicly named due to concerns for their safety.

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