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Florida School Principal Will Not be Charged for Paddling Student

todayMay 11, 2021

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Deputy Chief Assistant State Attorney Abraham R. Thornburg released a three-page memo in which he wrote that according to Florida law, spankings don’t equal child abuse.

What We Know:

  • Thornburg added that Fabiola Rivera, the child’s mother, could permit others to discipline her child on her behalf. Thornburg went on to mention Rivera was “uncooperative” in the state attorney’s investigation. Because of this, he questioned her credibility.
  • Footage surfaced on the internet last week of Central Elementary School Principal Melissa Carter paddling Rivera’s daughter with the help of clerk Cecilia Self. Carter punished the little girl after she damaged a school computer. In the video, Carter reprimands the daughter for being disrespectful. At one point, Carter said the little would be spanked “all the time” if she were her daughter.

“I wish you would try to call the police on me… That’s called being a brat. … I wouldn’t give you money for anything. I wouldn’t get you nice clothes. You would get what you got, and that’s it,” said the principal.

  • She recorded the incident on her cellphone, and the next day reported the incident. Clewiston Police Department and Hendry County District Schools decided to pursue an investigation in light of these allegations. Rivera’s attorney Brent Probinsky believed the paddling could be deemed as aggravated battery.
  • There are multiple interpretations of the situation. For example, Self says she explained to the mother in Spanish that her child broke property at the school. Rivera apparently replied that the girl also would destroy items around the house; however, she feared disciplining her because the child threatened to call the Department of Children and Family (DCF). Furthermore, the state attorney’s office stated the mother gave permission to paddle her daughter after getting to the school.
  • WINK-TV reported that Rivera denies these claims. Probinsky said officials requested she brings $50 to pay for the computer. They also informed her that they sometimes hit their students. In regards to Self’s translations, she says they were inaccurate. She says she filmed the punishment to ensure people would believe her.
  • Thornburg asserted that the recording was “cut and released to the media at different times.” Therefore, It resulted in an “incomplete and misleading account.” Additionally, the mother’s comment on “sacrifice” does not match her initial statement where she said she was confused and did not consent. Also, the state attorney’s office declared the child had no evidence of “great bodily harm, permanent harm or permanent disfigurement” to justify aggravated battery charges.
  • Probinsky disagrees with the state attorney’s version of the story. He expressed disappointment at the state attorney for not ensuring Carter and Self take accountability for their actions. Probinsky said one does not give permission to do illegal things.

Probinsky asked: “Every school that allows paddling gives a written permission slip. … The first opportunity she has, the mom goes to the sheriff’s office. How could she give permission for something that she thinks is wrong?”

  • Although corporal punishment is legal in Florida, the Hendry County School District does not allow it. This means Carter and Self might still be punished and face disciplinary action.

After the incident, Rivera transferred the child to another school within the district. Probinsky also revealed the girl had suffered emotional distress from the beating. Furthermore, he said the state attorney’s decision sends a “chilling” message to Florida educators and that parents should see Carter’s behavior as concerning.

The post Florida School Principal Will Not be Charged for Paddling Student appeared first on Black News Alerts.

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