Supporters of principal accused of paddling student show up to school board meeting

Published: May 4, 2021 10:11 PM EDT
Updated: May 5, 2021 2:47 PM EDT

Exclusive video of a 6-year-old paddled at Central Elementary School in Clewiston took center stage at The School Board of Hendry County meeting Tuesday night.

Hendry County District Schools does not allow corporal punishment.

Dozens of people showed up wearing “Central Strong” T-shirts and told us they supported the principal who was recorded paddling a student.

No decision was made by the board during the meeting.

We pressed Superintendent Michael Swindle after the meeting, but he still would not answer any of our questions.

Teachers and friends of Principal Melissa Carter who appeared at the meeting were loud and clear what they wanted to see happen. They said they stand with Carter.

A room full of red “Central Strong” T-shirts took over the Hendry County school board meeting, as community members showed their support for Principal Carter.

According to a police report, Carter was one of two women in the video paddling a 6-year-old student.

Fellow teachers, former students and friends say the video doesn’t show the woman they know.

We asked the superintendent about the principal’s status with the school district, but the board’s lawyer said they weren’t commenting on anything regarding the investigation.

Several board members also commented in support of Carter at the meeting.

It remains unclear when the school board will make a decision on the principal.

We tried to speak to the principal and clerk who are both seen in the video, but neither responded to voicemails we left again Tuesday.