***WARNING: This story contains disturbing images which may not be suitable for all readers. Discretion is advised.***
A Georgia woman recorded disturbing footage on her cellphone showing two school administrators holding her five-year-old son over a chair while they prepared to “paddle” him.
She says she was forced to consent to the use of corporal punishment – or face jail time.
“Jasper County made me do this,” Covington, Ga., resident Shana Marie Perez wrote in a Facebook post accompanying the video.
“They told me if he could not get a paddling he would have to be suspended and if he got suspended for even one day I will go to jail for truancy…. I couldn’t do anything to stop them.”
The incident occurred April 13 at the Jasper County Primary School in Monticello, Ga. Perez says the school’s principal and vice-principal called her into the school to inform her that her son, Thomas, was in trouble for getting into a fight with, and then spitting on, a fellow student.
She was told Thomas was to be “paddled” – or struck from behind with a large wooden paddle – as a form of corporal punishment. The school administrators then forcibly restrained an increasingly-hysterical Thomas as they prepared to paddle him, which is where the video began.
“Mommy, help me!” Thomas screamed as his arms were restrained over the arms of a chair.
“You’re going to get spanked now,” one of the administrators said.
“We’ve got all the time in the world, don’t we?” added the other.
In the video, Perez can be heard saying she’s “texting” while this is happening, but said that was just a cover so she could record the incident on her phone, which she believed went far beyond simple punishment.
“What happened at that school Wednesday was not a paddling, it was not a spanking. It was abuse,” Perez told CBS News.
Perez said she was helpless to intervene, as the two administrators had told her she could face jail time if she did so.
That’s because Thomas missed 18 days of school so far this year with what Perez said was a medical issue. However, the state of Georgia mandates that all children between the ages of six and 16 to attend some form of school, either public, private, or homeschooling.
Perez said the school board had her arrested earlier this year on a truancy charge. She says she was told Wednesday that if she prevented or tried to intervene in her son’s paddling, he would instead be suspended – and she would in turn face jail time over her son’s absence from school, thanks to her earlier arrest.
The Jasper County School District issued a statement to the public defending the use of corporal punishment, and saying they are investigating this specific instance.
“The Jasper County School District 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 this incident. The District respects every student’s right to privacy.”
“However, we can speak generally about the District’s code of conduct which allows corporal punishment as one of the consequences for behavior. That code of conduct is provided to all parents. When corporal punishment is used, it is with parental consent. The District is investigating the incident and looking into its discipline policies at this time.”