Principal Carter

No criminal charges for school principal caught on video paddling 6-year-old

A Florida elementary school principal who used a wooden paddle to spank a 6-year-old girl last month did not commit a crime, prosecutors said Friday, although corporal punishment is banned in the county where the paddling took place.

The incident was videoed by the girl’s mother, who said she was called by the school and told her daughter had damaged a computer screen that would cost $50 to repair. Central Elementary School Principal Melissa Carter says she mentioned the paddling on the phone, but the mother, who doesn’t speak English fluently, said she was confused and thought she was coming to the school to pay for the damage, as CrimeOnline previously reported.

But a memo released late Friday by the State Attorney’s Office for the Twentieth Judicial Circuit questioned the mother’s credibility and said that both Carter and school clerk Cecilia Self told investigators the mother said the girl was damaging items at home as well, and Self said that the mother requested the school paddle her, WINK reported.

Self said she told the mother that the school could discipline her daughter but that she would have to be present. According to the memo, the mother told investigating deputies that she went to the school to witness the discipline, but because she does not speak English fluently, she was “confused” and “did not understand the process correctly.”

A transcript of the video appears to indicate the mother was aware of what was going on, but because of the language barrier, that was not clear.

The family’s attorney, Brent Probinsky, said in a statement that he was disappointed the state attorney decided not to file charges.

“The State Attorney, [Amira] Fox, in our estimation failed to hold accountable those who violate their responsibility to educate and nurture school children under their care, and instead, physically and emotionally abuse them,” he said.

Carter was on administrative leave while is investigated, while parents who attended a Hendry County School District board meeting this week overwhelmingly supported the principal, NBC 2 reported. It’s not clear if she has been or will be reinstated, but WINK reported that it’s still possible Carter and Self could face disciplinary action from the school district, since it does not allow corporal punishment in Hendry County schools.

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[Feature Photo: WINK screenshot]