A Florida principal is being investigated after a video surfaced showing a 6-year-old student paddling in front of her mother in an elementary school, authorities said.
The principal, Melissa Carter of Central Elementary School in Clewiston, Florida, hit the girl with a paddle last month, according to the episode's cell phone video and the Hendry County Sheriff's Office.
In an email on Monday, Robert J. Egley, the deputy superintendent of Hendry County District Schools, said that "the situation is still under investigation" and gave no further details.
Clewiston police, who are also investigating the case, said their investigation was "ongoing."
Brent Probinsky, a lawyer for the mother, said the woman received a call from the school on April 13 saying that her daughter had damaged a computer screen at the school in Clewiston, about 80 miles northwest of Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
The woman, Mr. Probinsky said, was told to take $ 50 to the school office to pay for the damage, which he said she did.
In a cell phone video of the episode that WINK-TV posted on the website, the student bent over a chair as Mrs. Carter hit her with a paddle three times while standing next to a school clerk. After the first blow, as shown in the video, the child started to cry and walked away from the chair, but the two women put her there, after which Mrs. Carter said to her, "Put your hands down" and hit her twice again. Afterward, the child complained of "severe pain" in her lower back and buttocks, the sheriff's office said.
& # 39; I was shocked at how brutally this director beat this kid, & # 39; said Mr. Probinksy.
The girl's mother told the television station that she was shocked by the way her daughter had been beaten. "The hatred with which she hit my daughter," said the woman in Spanish, "I mean, it was a hatred that I never hit my daughter the way she hit her."
In 1977 the US Supreme Court ruled in his Ingraham to Wright concludes that corporal punishment in school is constitutional, meaning that each state can make its own rules when it comes to physically disciplining students.
Corporal punishment, defined as paddling, hitting or other forms of physical punishment, is allowed in 19 states, mostly in the South. Students are usually beaten with paddles that are up to two feet long and several inches wide.
While Florida allows corporal punishment, Hendry County District Schools policy does not allow it. The school district policy states that "the superintendent will designate penalties for rule violations, other than corporal punishment." The policy encourages procedures that "do not humiliate students" and "do not tend to violate individual rights constitutionally guaranteed to students."
Clewiston police said they received a report last month from Hendry Regional Medical Center staff requesting that an officer be sent to report a child with injuries and that the mother wanted to report the matter to the police.
Police said the Department of Children and Families and the Hendry County Sheriff's Office had received information on the matter.
Ms. Carter did not immediately respond to phone and email messages asking for comment on Monday afternoon.
Mr. Probinsky said he and his client hoped that criminal and administrative action would be taken in the case and that the episode would shed light on corporal punishment.
As for the 6-year-old girl, he said, she has since transferred to another school.