Mother of girl paddled at school takes legal action

Roshika Smith, 18, held down by students, paddled by instructor


JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The mother of the student who was held down by classmates and paddled by a school administrator is taking legal action against the school and the parents involved.

The incident happened last week in the cafeteria at Zarephath Academy, located on the east side of Jacksonville.

Cellphone video shows 18-year-old Roshika Smith being picked up by two or three male students, flipped over while she screamed and then paddled by a school instructor.

Roshika's mother, Evone Hayes, said she's moving forward with legal action against the school and against the parents of the students involved. Hayes said all five of her children have attended the school and that she has a lot of respect for the school pastor. But she said she has a problem with the workers, specifically the worker who hit her child.

"They could've hurt her -- with guys holding her like that and flipping her around as she's screaming, 'Stop, stop,'" Hayes said. "I think that was very wrong. I feel like it's battery on my child. I feel like it's battery. They had no business to hold my daughter down, so the parents just need to get ready because they will be hearing from an attorney, because if they are not under the age of 18 their parents will be held responsible for holding my daughter down."

A local attorney said Hayes could sue the parents of the children involved for battery on her daughter. She can also file a civil action lawsuit against the school for allowing students to participate in the corporal punishment policy, which Hayes admits to signing back in November.

"Yes, I did sign the corporal punishment papers, but I did not sign for them to hold her down," Hayes said. "That's against her will to hold somebody and beat them like that. I signed the paper, but I didn't sign the papers to be abused. I think that was abuse."

Since the incident, Hayes has taken her daughter and son out of the school and registered them at another school. She said the legal process against the academy is just beginning, much like the healing process for her daughter.

"She doesn't want to go back to the school," Hayes said. "She's embarrassed they did her like that and she felt more hurt than anything. I talk to the teachers and they said they didn't try to hurt her,  but that's hurting a child when you have students hold her down."

The Zarephath Academy declined to comment.

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