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A Clewiston paddling incident is sparking conversations about corporal punishment

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Posted at 9:47 AM, May 06, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-06 09:47:19-04

CLEWISTON, Fla. — A video capturing a Clewiston principal paddling a student has sparked comment from those who support and oppose the principal’s actions, including Gov. Ron DeSantis.

The family’s attorney says in the video, you can see Principal, Melissa Carter on the left and her assistant, Cecilia Self on the right as Carter hits the child three times with the paddle.

In a press conference on May 5, DeSantis was asked if the principal’s actions were legal.

“Actually, ya I did see some headline about that, I did not click through, so I don’t want to speak out of turn, without having seen the actual facts,” said DeSantis.

Brent Probinsky, the attorney for the mother of the 6-year-old, told Fox 4 that the mother was called down to her daughter’s school because she had scratched a classroom computer screen.

Probinksy says the mother had no idea that her child would be paddled and would not have given permission for them to do so.

Currently, there are 19 states, including Florida that allow corporal punishment in schools.

Although it boils down to the decision of each county.

Probinsky says the problem isn’t with consent, it’s with corporal punishment being a violation.

“You can’t paddle a child in Hendry County, with or without a police officer, with or without a video, with or without the parent’s consent. you can’t do it, it’s not allowed,” said Probinsky.

An online petition has also been created calling for Carter to be prosecuted.

The petition was launched on April 30, with the goal of collecting 5,000 signatures.

People in the Hendry County community have also started to voice their opinions, some showing support for Carter.

At the Hendry County School District meeting on May 4, several people made public comments.

“An evil administrator, has hate in her heart, cruel, non-caring, disgrace, she should be put in jail, child that Melissa Carter that we are talking about? I know that is not the case and you should too,” said one man during the meeting.

Fox 4 has reached out to the Hendry County School District and they have declined to comment.