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Perth Amboy middle school administrators on leave over corporal punishment allegations

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Josh Einiger has more from Perth Amboy. (WABC)

New Jersey state officials are investigating corporal punishment allegations at a middle school in Perth Amboy after parents say students were recently made to march in formation around the building with heavy backpacks or book bags.

Thursday night's school board meeting in Perth Amboy started on a high note, but parents like Rafael Garay were not there for a show. He wants someone to answer to what his 12-year-old daughter was forced to endure in middle school last Friday.

"Because they were misbehaving in class now they have to march around the whole entire school with a backpack on? I can't wrap my head around that," Garay said.

Eyewitness News has learned New Jersey Child Welfare officials are taking a close look at disciplinary procedures at McGinnis Middle School, where sources say Principal Myrna Garcia prides herself on her so-called standard operating procedures meant to instill discipline. In fact, the school's website prominently displays pictures of students as they line up silently as they move from class to class.

But on Friday, when some students acted up, sixth grader Jennifer Grullon says they all were forced to load up their backpacks with books and walk in circles around the school, for nearly eight hours.

"They only let us drink water for maybe three times and I was really tired, my book bag was heavy, my shoulders were hurting there were people that had to go home because of back aches. And I just thought that that was really unfair," Grullon said.

Jennifer says they were able to take a break for lunch, but they did not spend any time inside a classroom learning.

"We went upstairs and then downstairs and then upstairs again, for the whole day," she said. "We couldn't do anything else."

Garcia, the principal, refused to defend herself to Eyewitness News on Wednesday night. Sources say she, her assistant principal, and five teachers have all been suspended, as the state and the district conduct separate investigations.

"Listen, I was in the military, my children are not in military school. My child is in public school," Garay said.

The Perth Amboy Board of Education released the following statement:

"The Perth Amboy School District has been informed about some concerns pertaining to discipline issues at the McGinnis School recently. The District takes these types of allegations seriously and is conducting an internal investigation to ascertain the facts."

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