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Florida state attorney won't prosecute principal who paddled 1st grader

The state attorney says because the mother consented to the child's punishment and the principal treated the child with 'respect,' no crime was committed.
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HENDRY COUNTY, Fla. — A principal shown on video paddling a six-year-old child as punishment won't be prosecuted, according to a Florida state attorney. 

According to a letter sent to the Clewiston Police Department and obtained by CBS This Morning's David Begnaud, State Attorney Amira Fox said after reviewing the case it doesn't appear Principal Melissa Carter committed a crime. 

Earlier this week WINK News reported Carter was under investigation after the video of the incident surfaced. 

In a report Monday on CBS This Morning, David Begnaud said the first-grader was beaten three times for "allegedly scratching a computer screen."

The student's mother said it all started when she went to the school to pay a fine for the damage her daughter was accused of doing to a computer according to WINK News. 

A police report obtained by WINK News says the first-grader's mother mentioned paddling with her and a deputy present, but because of a language barrier, she didn't understand the process correctly. 

WINK News said when the 6-year-old's mother got to the school she was taken to the principal's office where it was just her, the clerk and the principal. 

The woman told WINK News she thought nobody would believe her about what was happening so she hid her phone in her purse and set it to record. She told the news station she "sacrificed my daughter, so all parents can realize what’s happening in this school.”

However, Fox said the documentation she has shows the child's mother consented and even requested the girl's punishment. 

RELATED: Video shows Florida principal paddle 1st-grade student

According to the state attorney, a school staff member called the child's mother explaining her daughter had intentionally damaged computer equipment. Fox's letter says the staff member said the first-grader's mom told her her daughter was "damaging things at home" and the mom was "afraid to discipline her by spanking because her daughter threatens to call the police and DCF." 

Fox goes on to say the staff member then said the child's mom requested the school spank her daughter for her. The staff member told the mother she would have to come down to the school, make the request in person and then be present during the spanking. Both the principal and staff member say the mother came to the school and requested the spanking, according to Fox. 

State Attorney Fox also says it appears Principal Carter and the staff member appeared to treat "the child and her mother with respect throughout the process." Fox says near the end of the video as the mother is leaving the office, the mother can be heard saying "thank you" to Carter and the staff member.

Fox says that the child only had minor bruising where she was paddled, but no apparent "welting or other injury." Fox also pointed out Florida law makes it "clear" spanking does not equal child abuse. 

Based on what she reviewed, Fox says the evidence "appears clear" the mother "sanctioned and consented to the spanking of her daughter as discipline for misbehavior." Additionally, Fox said a "parent has a right to use corporal punishment to discipline their children and similarly has the right to consent that others do so on their behalf." 

Therefore, criminal charges against Principal Carter won't be pursued. 

RELATED: Substitute teacher accused of attacking student had history of red flags

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