Ouch! Parents file $1.7 million lawsuit over excessive paddling

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In rural Morgan County, Tenn., the parents of a kindergarten boy who was paddled eight times for allegedly throwing crayons and rocks have filed a $1.7 million lawsuit.

The defendants in the lawsuit include the Sunbright Elementary School principal who swatted the boy, Elizabeth Boyd, along with the Morgan County director of schools and Morgan County itself, reports Knoxville NBC affiliate WBIR.

The parents, Sandra Hall and Jason Williams, say their son, Lukas Williams, endured deep bruising and inflammation as a result of the repeated spankings. He was five years old when the paddling incident occurred.

Lukas allegedly became so traumatized by the experience that he did not want to return to school. His parents removed him from Sunbright Elementary. He is now homeschooled.

The swatting incident occurred at the beginning of the school year in 2012, according to a previous report by WBIR.

Boyd was suspended as a result of the incident. A school district investigation concluded that Boyd’s disciplinary tactics were excessive.

To the outrage of the boy’s parents, and other parents, Boyd was later reassigned to an assistant principal position at a local middle school.

“She needs to go,” the boy’s mother told WBIR at the time. “This is for the safety of our kids. This isn’t just about the safety of my child. It’s about the safety of every child in this county. We want her out of Morgan County.”

The outraged mom did note that had given Boyd verbal permission to spank Lukas for misbehaving. However, she said Boyd went way too far.

“My child wasn’t spanked. He was beaten,” she told local CBS affiliate WVLT.

After an investigation by the Morgan County Sheriff, Principal Boyd was charged with child abuse and neglect. The eventual outcome of those charges is not clear.

Corporal punishment is legal in Tennessee, though not all school districts utilize it to discipline students. (RELATED: Memphis area schools ban corporal punishment)

According to what appears to be Boyd’s LinkedIn account, she is no longer employed by the Morgan County school district. The resume for Elizabeth says she is now an online facilitator at the University of Phoenix, a large online, for-profit college.

Boyd holds a doctoral degree in education from Union University, an evangelical Christian school in nearby Jackson, Tenn.

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Eric Owens