UPDATED 5/7, 9:34 p.m. ET: Florida officials have declined to pursue criminal charges against Melissa Carter, the elementary school principal who was recorded paddling a 6-year-old student as punishment.
Deputy Chief Assistant State Attorney Abraham R. Thornburg announced the decision Friday, saying authorities reviewed the evidence and determined Carter’s actions did “not meet the elements of any criminal offense in the State of Florida.”
“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 ...” Thornburg said in a statement. “The law in Florida is clear that spanking a child does not amount to child abuse. In fact, incidents of corporal punishment have resulted in significantly greater injury to a child than this incident have been repeatedly upheld by courts as legitimate punishment and not child abuse.”
UPDATED 5/4, 10:56 a.m. ET: The 6-year-old student who was paddled by his school’s principal is now in therapy, TMZ reports. According to his family’s lawyer, the child has trouble sleeping and cries constantly. TMZ has learned that the mother, who witnessed the incident, is “riddled with guilt.”
The lawyer, Brent Probinsky, explains that she didn’t intervene because she’s an undocumented immigrant, and feared being deported if she were to report the paddling.
The case is being reviewed by the state attorney’s office, the school district, and the Florida Dept. of Education.
See original story below.
An elementary school principal in Clewiston, Florida, is under investigation for paddling a student, Fox 4 reports.
In a video obtained by WINK news, Melissa Carter, the principal of Central Elementary School, is seen paddling a six-year-old student in front of their mother, who captured the footage.
The family’s lawyer, Bret Provinsky, said Clewiston police have turned over the investigation to the State Attorney’s Office for the 20th Judicial Circuit. The state attorney’s office is deciding whether they will bring criminal charges against Carter and Cecilia Self, a school clerk who’s featured in the video, according to Fox 4.
Florida is currently one of nineteen states in which school corporal punishment is allowed. According to Fox 4, Florida Statues on corporal punishment do not require schools to get parental consent before they paddle students, though many Florida school districts do send home a waiver asking parents for permission.
“Although I was a proponent of it a long time ago and as a parent, I would probably still be a proponent of it,” Cortney Hinton, a Cape Coral parent and teacher, told Fox 4. “Given the circumstances or situation, as a teacher, I would not.”
“Thirty something years ago, kids had a different approach on life- they didn’t have social media; they weren’t led in different directions because of what’s around them,” Hinton added. “I’m not sure bringing it back, even if we were allowed to bring it back, would make a difference- I don’t think it would.”