Judge recommends penalty for Hendry County school principal who paddled student

Reporter: Taylor Wirtz
Published: Updated:
A school principal in Hendry County is facing a suspension a year after a video surfaced of her paddling a student.

A judge is recommending consequences for a principal caught on camera paddling a child in a Hendry County school.

Melissa Carter, principal of Central Elementary School, came under fire in April of last year after a video surfaced of her paddling a child on the rear.

Now, a judge recommends the Department of Education suspend Carter’s educator certificate for three months and give her two years probation.

The suspension is to be served when school is not in session.

The judge said Carter violated both district policy and state statutes when she paddled the 6-year-old child.

Carter’s defense was that the child’s mother was having trouble disciplining her at home and asked Carter to paddle her.

The mother denies this.

“Why would she ask for a child to be paddled and go to the police the next day, and then in the hospital the next day to complain,” said Bret Probinsky, who is representing the child’s family.

After a two-day hearing, a judge recommended that Carter also attend anger management classes.

“The administrative judge said it doesn’t really matter whether the mother asked for it or not. She violated the Florida laws and the school district laws,” Probinsky said.

Probinsky said Carter deserves punishment.

“We feel this is a great hurdle that has been accomplished, overcome and the child’s family has been vindicated that they did not do anything wrong,” Probinsky said.

The family is suing the Hendry County school district for damages due to the paddling.

The district said it has no comment concerning Carter’s likely suspension.

Her lawyers did not return WINK News’ calls for comment.

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