A Florida principal will not face criminal charges for spanking a 6-year-old girl with a wooden paddle last month.
An investigation by the state attorney’s office concluded Carter did not commit a crime because the mother reportedly consented to the spanking, according to legal documents obtained by TMZ.
“The evidence, in this case, appears clear that the child’s mother sanctioned and consented to the spanking of her daughter as discipline for misbehavior,” said Deputy Chief Assistant State Attorney Abraham R. Thornburg.
The incident occurred on April 13 at Central Elementary School in Clewiston, Florida. The unidentified girl was being punished for causing $50 worth of damage to a school computer. In a video filmed by the child’s mother, school principal Melissa Carter hit the child three times with a wooden paddle. Cecilia Self, a school clerk, bent the child over a table as the principal struck her.
The girl’s mother submitted a statement about the beating to Hendry County Sheriff’s Office the following day. She claimed the principal and clerk mentioned paddling her daughter, but she didn’t understand what was happening due to a language barrier. Thornburg added “significant concerns” about the mother’s creditability, and she had no reason to be confused about what was happening.
Self reportedly called the mother to the school and told her about the vandalism, according to Thornburg. The mom told her she was having the same issue with her daughter at home. Self also spoke to her in Spanish during the talk.
“Ms. Self further stated that (the mother) then requested that the school spank the child for her, to which Ms. Self replied that she would have to physically come to the school, specifically request such discipline, and be present during the spanking if she wished school staff to do it for her,” Thornbury wrote, per The Grio. “According to both Ms. Carter and Ms. Self, (the mother) then arrived at the school and made that request.”
Corporal punishment is legal in Florida, but the Hendry County school district banned the practice. Thornburg appeared to side with Florida state law in this case.
“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,” he stated.
Brent Probinsky, an attorney for the child’s family, expressed his disappointment in the decision.
“The state attorney reached the wrong conclusion here,” he told TMZ. “It’s frightening the state attorney, who is in charge of prosecuting crimes in this community, is not filing charges in what clearly is child abuse.”
The girl’s family wants Carter’s teaching license revoked, and Probinsky claims the Dept. of Children and Family Services supports the move. Carter is currently on administrative leave.