COVINGTON, Ga., April 15, 2016 (Gephardt Daily) — Administrators of a Covington, Georgia elementary school are under fire after controversial videos surfaced showing the school principal preparing to paddle a seemingly terrified 5-year-old.
The videos were posted on Facebook by the child’s mother, Shana Marie Perez, who says officials at Jasper Primary School threatened her with arrest and jail if she tried to intervene.
“I couldn’t do anything to stop them,” Perez wrote on social media.
The accompanying videos which Perez posted around 6 p.m. Thursday had been viewed a million times by Friday morning.
The child, who reportedly has a history of behavioral issues, was being punished for allegedly spitting at another student.
In an interview with WSB in Atlanta, Perez admitted giving administrators consent to paddle her son, but said she feared he would be suspended if she refused. She said a suspension would lead to truancy charges against her, which had already landed her in jail earlier the year.
A statement released by the Jasper County School District said “it is aware of the video released by Ms. Perez. Unfortunately, the district is barred by state and federal law from commenting about the specifics of the incident.”
The District also pointed out corporal punishment school is allowed under the school’s rules, which had been provided to every parent, and that “When corporal punishment is used, it is with parental consent.”
Perez said she decided to record the incident after hearing her son’s pleas to be let go. She said when she watched the video later she realized she should have intervened, even if it meant going to jail.
“There’s no way I can express how sad or how I felt about watching him be treated like that. I didn’t realize at that moment how they basically abused him.”
The Jasper County Sheriff’s Office released a statement Friday, saying Perez would not have been re-arrested for the consequences of a suspension doled out as an in-school discipline, even though she had been jailed previously for 18 instances of truancy involving her son.
“After reviewing the facts of the case, no probable cause exists to substantiate the commission of a crime,” the Sheriff’s Office statement said.
Perez and school officials were scheduled to meet Friday to discuss the incident.
The video of the event has stirred a nationwide debate on the use of corporal punishment, which has been banned in 41 states.
It is still legal in 19 others: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Wyoming.