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Demanding answers after 6-year-old paddled at Hendry County school

There is a demand for answers from a school district in Southwest Florida that has been silent.

A WINK News exclusive story has been seen on national news and around the world — a 6-year-old girl paddled by her principal as punishment at a Hendry County elementary school.

The child’s mom told deputies it was all over damage to a computer.

Thousands of parents are outraged and asking how someone hired to protect children could keep a paddle at school.

Others want to know why adults who were also in the room didn’t stop the beating.

We searched for answers at Central Elementary School in Clewiston Monday.

Nearly every parent or grandparent in the pickup line at Central Elementary told us they saw the video of the student being paddled by the principal.

“I was saying words that I wouldn’t want no parent to see that,” said Ivana Cruz, the mother of a first-grade student. “I was mad. I was real mad. This is ridiculous. I don’t think no child should have went through that.”

Cruz told us her daughter loves Central Elementary, and her heart broke to see the video.

The grandfather of student we spoke to wants to know what will happen to the principal and the clerk since the video is out.

“You do not do that on a kid,” Moses Webber said. “Every time [she] getting ready to say something, she hit [her]. I don’t go along with that.”

We pressed Hendry County District Schools for answers, and we were told no comment.

Through a cracked door, the superintendent’s assistant finally opened and told us no cameras. The superintendent wasn’t available, but we kept asking, and we left a message for him.

We called every single school board member and the clerk and principal in the video directly again, but we did not receive an answer. We also left messages for them.

“I do not wish that on nobody’s kid because I have my little daughter to think about,” Cruz said. “When I seen it, I felt bad for that little girl. I really do.”

Hendry County school district policy does not allow corporal punishment.

No one has responded to our questions from the school district or the school.

According to Jason Brown, director of safety for the Hendry County School District, there will be a statement once the investigation is complete.

WINK News confirmed the Clewiston Police Department and the Florida Department of Children and Families are investigating.

Reporter:Anika Henanger
Writer:Jack Lowenstein
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