A mother in Jasper County, Georgia posted a video to her Facebook page Wednesday that shows her son, a kindergartener, crying for his mother and struggling against the school’s principal and assistant principal as they attempted to paddle the five-year-old.
The video circulating now on social media is available here.
The paddling was reportedly a punishment for spitting at another child.
The boy’s mother, Shana Perez claims that she recorded the video after the school officials threatened her, claiming that she must either submit to the paddling or face jail time for truancy because the boy would otherwise be suspended.
Perez told WSB-TV that the boy missed 18 days of school earlier this year and she had already been arrested once for truancy.
“To be honest, if I could go back, I would grab him up and say, ‘No. You can’t paddle him. Just go ahead and take me to jail,’” Perez said.
The local sheriff’s office has denied Perez’s claim that she had been threatened and told she would be arrested again if she wouldn’t consent to the paddling.
According to Sheriff Donnie Pope, “There was no coercion on their part. We confirmed the school did not tell her that.” He maintains that there was no illegal activity in the video.
The superintendent made the following statement online:
“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.”
“There’s no way I can express how sad or how I felt about watching him be treated like that,” said Perez. “I didn’t realize at that moment how they basically abused him,” she said.
“Justice For Thomas Berryhill,” the Facebook page created by Perez for her son has become a source of support for the mother and haven for controversy.