Parents say Orlando pastor whipped kids with belt at private school

ORLANDO, Fla. — Parents at an Orlando private school were left fuming and asking police for justice after they accused a pastor of beating their children with a belt Thursday afternoon.

The parents – and one of the students – said Pastor Terence Gray walked into the fourth grade classroom at the St. Mark AME Church’s Alpha Learning Academy and accused the children of misbehaving.


“He said that he was going to whip us with a belt because we’d been bad,” student Shane Walker said.

Walker said the pastor called on the misbehaving kids to stand up, or the punishment would be more severe. He said the class’s teacher then pointed out any students who also needed to be punished, which amounted to all but a handful.

After making the kids line up, Walker said Gray called them over individually and gave them three lashes. Walker’s mother said the boy had bruises on his upper leg.

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“This makes me really emotional,” Janesha Martin said. “I don’t send my child to school to be abused by anyone.”

Martin said Walker attended the school for seven years, beginning when he was a toddler. She said nothing of this nature had ever happened before, and she never consented to physical punishment.

She displayed a copy of the school’s handbook, which also didn’t mention whipping as a form of allowable punishment.

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She said Gray, while a pastor of the church, was not involved in the day-to-day operations of the school.

“The pastor should have been arrested last night,” she said, angrily, and announced she had pulled her son out of the school.

Kinshasa Felix said her daughter was also whipped and said her daughter had been accused of drawing pictures of children and passing them around the class.

“What makes a man to want to whip a kid like that?” Felix asked.

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Felix said when she withdrew her daughter, the school provided a form for her to sign, signaling the purpose of the withdrawal was for academic reasons.

Felix, pulling out the paper, said she forced the secretary to write “child abuse” on the line marked “other,” and demanded the sheet be photocopied before she left.

WFTV emailed Gray, the principal, and other school leaders Friday. Gray and the principal’s emails bounced, while others didn’t generate a response.

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At the school’s front door, a staff member said the school did not have any comment on the situation.

Orlando police confirmed an investigation was underway. Martin and Felix said a detective interviewed them.

Meanwhile, the mothers said they weren’t buying the explanation Gray provided them.

“Pastor Gray said that the children volunteered, which is a lie,” Martin said. “My child would never volunteer to… disciplinary action of that sort.”

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