Clewiston principal caught paddling first-grader over damaged computer

CLEWISTON, Fla. – A school principal was recorded on video hitting a first grade student

CLEWISTON, Fla. – A school principal was recorded on video hitting a first grade student with a paddle because she had scratched a school computer, according to the family’s attorney.

The 6-year-old’s mother was notified about the damage in mid-April and was asked to come to the school with $50 and was told her child needed to be punished.

The principal, Melissa Carter, and her assistant, Cecilia Self, were in the school office with the student when the mother arrived on April 14, according to the lawyer.

The mother does not speak English, so Self translated some information to the mother. Moments later, the paddle was brought out and the mother started recording on her phone, fearing what would happen next, according to the lawyer.

In the video, you can see the principal hitting the student with a paddle multiple times, with the assistant holding the child down. You can also hear the principal say, “You better be glad you’re not my daughter, because I would spank you all the time for acting like that.”

The mother went to the Hendry County Sheriff’s Office and reported the incident. The video was also sent to the county’s superintendent, who placed the principal on administrative leave.

The Clewiston Police Department released the following statement about the incident:

The Clewiston Police Department, Department of Children and Families, and the Hendry County Sheriff’s Office have been provided information regarding this matter. The investigation remains ongoing at this time. Information will be released as it becomes available under public records laws pursuant to Florida Statute.
The Clewiston Police Department takes all matters of child welfare seriously and remains committed to protecting the most vulnerable members of our community. The Clewiston Police Department is working diligently to ensure that the rights of all parties in this matter are preserved.

The Hendry County School District released the following statement about the incident:

“The situation is under investigation, at this time we have been advised to not give any statements.”

The Florida Department of Children and Families released the following statement about the incident:

The Department of Children and Families has opened an investigation into the concerning incident at Central Elementary School in Clewiston. The department is working closely with the Department of Education, Hendry County Schools, and Hendry County Sheriff’s Office. At this time, further information remains confidential per section 39.202, Florida Statutes.

No arrests or any criminal citations have been made.