Two videos — one showing two Georgia elementary school administrators preparing to paddle a five-year-old student named Thomas, and one showing the aftermath — sparked outrage when the mom posted them on Facebook.
On Wednesday, April 13, Thomas' mother, Shana Marie Perez, secretly filmed the incident at Jasper County Primary School on her phone, and later uploaded the footage to Facebook.
Tagging one of her Facebook friends in the video, Perez wrote that administrators " 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."
She added that there was nothing she could do while administrators prepared to paddle her son.
Perez told local NBC affiliate 11 Alive News that she had been locked in a long-running dispute with the school over her son's attendance. She'd been dealing with medical issues that caused her son to miss 18 days of school this year.
The school had previously arrested her for truancy. She was out on bond when the paddling incident occurred.
The first video appears to show the school principal, Pam Edge and the assistant principal, Lynn McElheney, repeatedly attempting to hold Thomas down while they explain to him that they are going to paddle him.
McElheney tells Thomas that they will only paddle him once.
"Unless you wiggle around," Edge says.
The administrators struggle to hold Thomas down. He can be seen trying to cover himself with his hands, and heard crying and saying, "Mommy, help me."
Perez wrote that she did not film the actual paddling, but captured the aftermath in a second video. It shows Thomas laying on the floor crying.
"I'm not leaving him in here acting like that," Perez can be heard saying.
McElheney tells Perez to "go outside," adding that she won't wrestle with him.
In a statement posted to its website, Jasper County School District said it was barred by state and federal law to comment on the specifics of the incident.
But it did cite the code of conduct regarding disciplinary actions, which "allows corporal punishment as one of the consequences for behavior."
The statement went on to say that "That code of conduct is provided to all parents. When corporal punishment is used, it is with parental consent."
The district is currently investigating the incident and reviewing its disciplinary policies.
Jasper County Sheriff's Office on Thursday posted a statement to its Facebook page reiterating that corporal punishment is legal in the state of Georgia, and that Perez had not filed any reports with their office.
"Any disagreements with the polices [sic], procedures, concepts or activities of The Jasper County School System or It's employees, should be addressed with the Board of Education," the statement read.
BuzzFeed News has reached out to Perez for more information.
Tamerra Griffin is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based Nairobi, Kenya.
Contact Tamerra Griffin at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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