School principal accused of paddling 6-year-old girl over damaged computer

Published: May. 4, 2021 at 12:07 AM CDT
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CLEWISTON, Fla. (WINK) - An elementary school principal in Florida is under investigation after the mother of a 6-year-old student says her daughter was paddled for damaging a computer. The mother recorded video of the alleged incident.

The mother of a 6-year-old student at Central Elementary in Clewiston, Florida, told deputies the school called April 13, saying her daughter had damaged a computer. She says the school also mentioned paddling, but she didn’t fully understand what that meant due to a language barrier.

She went to the school later that day to pay the $50 fee charged for the damage to the computer. But she was instead taken to the principal’s office with her daughter, Principal Melissa Carter and school clerk Cecilia Self.

Carter is accused of paddling the 6-year-old girl in front of her mother.

The child’s mother says she was too afraid to stop the beating because she is an undocumented immigrant. But she hid her cell phone in her purse and recorded it to prove that it had happened.

“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. I had never hit her,” said the girl’s mother in Spanish. “I sacrificed my daughter, so all the parents can realize what’s happening in this school.”

The mother also took her daughter to the doctor the same day to document red marks and bruises caused by the alleged paddling.

The family’s lawyer, Brent Probinsky, works with undocumented immigrants. He believes Carter could face aggravated battery charges.

“The child’s terrified. She feels vulnerable. There’s nothing she can do in the hands of these adults who overpower her and treat her so brutely, savagely and, really, sadistically. If you look at that video, this principal was sadistic,” he said.

The girl’s mother is worried about the potential long-term psychological damage.

“I’m going to get justice for my daughter because if I could not do it in front of her, I’m going to do it with justice,” she said. “I’m going to do what it takes for my daughters to be successful and teach them they have a mother who looks out for them.”

The Hendry County School District would not comment on the incident. Its policy does not allow corporal punishment and, in fact, encourages procedures that do not “demean students” or violate their constitutional rights.

“The superintendent shall designate sanctions for the infractions of rules, excluding corporal punishment,” reads the policy.

The state attorney’s office is deciding whether criminal charges will be brought against Carter and Self, according to Probinsky.

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