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The Times-Picayune, New Orleans, 1 June 2011
St. Aug alumni sue consultant in paddling controversy
By Bruce Nolan
The controversy over corporal punishment at St. Augustine High School resurfaced Tuesday when several alumni sued a consultant who advised Archbishop Gregory Aymond that St. Augustine students had been injured by paddling.
The claim isn't true, the alumni said.
For months Aymond, who as archbishop exerts some control over the Catholic school, has sought to end St. Augustine's decades-old practice of paddling students. He has said it is not consistent with Catholic values.
But backers of corporal punishment, who include St. Augustine administrators, parents and alumni, say it is part of St. Augustine's formula for success.
In addition, they have said that no one has been hurt by paddling and that there are no complaints about it from within the St. Aug community. They also have said they resent the suggestion that Aymond and others are more competent than they to decide how the school's students should be disciplined.
The archbishop and the school still have come to no agreement.
In late 2009 Aymond asked Monica Applewhite, described as a educational safety consultant based in Austin, Texas, to look into discipline at St. Augustine.
As Aymond's representative, Applewhite sat in on St. Augustine's internal review of its corporal punishment policy. The review committee elected to continue the policy, with modifications.
But the lawsuit says that Applewhite privately advised Aymond that she learned during her inquiry that parents had taken three students to the hospital after paddling, and that others had been paddled "day after day and more than 5 or 6 times a day."
"I believe stakeholders would be far more reasonable about needed modifications if they knew the truth," she told Aymond.
The lawsuit says Applewhite's allegation of injuries was news to the other committee members.
That allegation went not only to Aymond but also to the leadership of the Josephites, the religious order that founded St. Augustine. St. Augustine officials said they saw the allegation for the first time when Aymond shared it with them in a March 31 meeting.
Applewhite was unavailable for comment Tuesday.
In the lawsuit, the St. Augustine Alumni Association, with alumni Warren Johnson, Percy Marchand and Byron Williams Sr. listed, said Applewhite's report to Aymond was untrue.
They said they have reviewed records of all the meetings Applewhite and other members of the review committee had with parents, and have found no record of complaints about hospitalizations.
They said no hospitals reported suspicious injuries to police, as they would be required to do under state law.
The alumni asked the court, among other things, to declare Applewhite's claims false.
Aymond and the St. Aug advocates apparently have had no additional meetings since March 31.
On orders from the school's Josephite owners, who agree with Aymond on the paddling issue, St. Augustine operated last year without corporal punishment as a disciplinary option, over the objection of local administrators and parents.
School officials have said the issue of whether paddling will be in effect during the 2011-12 school year has to be settled soon, so it can be incorporated in the summer printing of the school handbook, which functions as a contract with parents.
© 2010 New Orleans Net LLC. All Rights Reserved.
RELATED VIDEO CLIP
A three-minute news segment from local TV station Fox 8 News in New Orleans (3 June 2011), "Paddling controversy heats up". It describes the dispute over the "expert report" which had claimed there had been cases in which students were injured by paddling. The school says this statement is wrong and demands of the Archbishop that it be retracted. Parents are interviewed who say they were misrepresented in the report.
HERE IS THE CLIP:
IMPORTANT: Copyright in this video material rests with the original copyright holders. This brief excerpt is reproduced under the "fair use" doctrine for private, non-profit, historical research and education purposes only. It must not be redistributed or republished in any commercial context.
myfox8.com (WGHP-TV), High Point, North Carolina, 22 June 2011
Corporal Punishment Option Upheld in Randolph Co. Schools
RANDOLPH COUNTY, N.C. (WGHP) -- A corporal punishment policy will stay on the books in Randolph County Schools.
All but one member of the Randolph County school board voted in favor Tuesday of keeping a policy that gives school personnel an option for using corporal punishment.
The policy requires school leaders to get parental permission before using corporal punishment on a child, and there has to be a witness in the room when it happens.
Supt. Don Andrews said he is in favor of the policy in the way it is written.
"Kids are different. Corporal punishment for one child may be a real deterrent to inappropriate behavior, whereas for another child it may not be a deterrent. You'd have to talk to parents about that because every child is different," Andrews said.
The board member who voted against the policy said there were no studies that showed corporal punishment was more effective than other forms of punishment.
A bill that would give parents the option to completely opt out of the policy is awaiting Gov. Bev Perdue's signature.
Rockingham County banned corporal punishment in February, becoming the 70th district in the state to outright ban the practice.
Copyright © 2011, WGHP-TV
Gaston Gazette, North Carolina, 22 June 2011
Gaston County Schools puts down the paddle
By Amanda Memrick
Paddling as punishment won't be permitted at Gaston County Schools next year.
The Board of Education voted Monday night to prohibit corporal punishment, dropping the number of North Carolina school districts that allow the controversial form of discipline from 18 to 17 districts.
Principals and administrators told school leaders that corporal punishment was no longer needed or used so it wasn't necessary to have it on the books as a form of punishment, said Board Chairman Mark Upchurch.
"That's more positive for the students out there. You just don't know what kind of home life they have, and you want to make school a positive place for them," Upchurch said. "We don't want it to be a negative place."
Gaston County Schools students were paddled 14 times during the last school year, according to district data. Paddling was used most often on kindergartners, who were paddled seven times. Second-graders were paddled four times. A first-grader, third-grader and seventh-grader were each paddled once last school year.
"I've never used it as an administrator," said North Belmont Elementary Principal Chris Germain. "I don't think it's my style to punish children that way. As a dad, I don't do that at home."
As a principal, he said he wouldn't want to do that to someone else's child.
North Belmont's first step is to inform parents when their child misbehaves.
The school focuses on rewards-based programs that encourage good behavior. Alternate methods like putting a student in another classroom, using the in-school suspension room, referrals to guidance counselors and working on self-esteem issues are used in place of paddling.
Weekly prize drawings and monthly parties are used as incentives. Detentions, in-school suspensions and out-of-school suspensions punish bad behavior.
No parents have asked Germain to paddle their child, though he did have one parent spank a child in the bathroom. Germain informed the parent that spanking wasn't allowed in the school.
North Carolina is one of 19 states that allow corporal punishment, according to Action for Children North Carolina.
Schools weren't required to report corporal punishment until this school year, said Tom Vitaglione, senior fellow with Action for Children North Carolina.
Legislators recently passed a law that required schools to give parents the choice to allow or forbid corporal punishment.
"I think in the last three years about 20 school districts have banned corporal punishment," Vitaglione said. "There are many that allow it but really haven't used it in years."
Lincoln County is one of those counties that still allows corporal punishment but hasn't used it, Vitaglione said.
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools eliminated corporal punishment in 1991.
Cleveland County got rid of the practice in 2009.
Research in the last two decades has shown that corporal punishment doesn't help with behavior or attendance and could cause problems when it comes to confidence, attitudes about school and relating to teachers, Vitaglione said.
Corporal punishment by grade level during the 2010-11 school year
Source: Gaston County Schools
© Copyright 2010 Freedom Communications. All Rights Reserved.
The Times-Picayune, New Orleans, 28 June 2011
Josephites' new leader disavows interview, says paddling must end at St. Augustine High School
By Bruce Nolan, The Times-Picayune
The new superior general of the Josephites on Monday disavowed remarks attributed to him and published over the weekend that seemed to open the door to a reconsideration of corporal punishment at St. Augustine High School.
In an interview Monday, the Rev. William Norvel said the issue is closed: Paddling is dead.
He pointed to a written statement issued June 21 saying the administration of the Josephites "affirms the decision of the previous administration in July 2010 to end the practice of corporal punishment."
The weekend editions of the archdiocesan newspaper, the Clarion Herald, contained the first interview with Norvel since his election to the order's top post, in which he said he planned to listen "to both sides of the issue" before coming to a decision.
In the Clarion Herald interview, Norvel described meetings that he had either held or scheduled with various figures on each side of the dispute. Because of the need for extensive fact-gathering, he declined to say when he hoped to make a decision. He also compared his new role to an earlier experience in a divided parish in which he listened at great length before resolving a dispute.
The Clarion Herald said that interview was conducted June 17, three days after Norvel was elected superior general. Four days after the interview, the Josephite administration issued its unambiguous "no-corporal punishment" statement. But because of its print deadlines, Norvel's Clarion Herald remarks did not appear until this weekend.
Norvel, in a brief interview Monday, said he wanted to say nothing more than what was contained in the Josephites' written statement. Asked about the Clarion Herald story, he said it was "completely wrong."
Editor Peter Finney Jr., who conducted the interview and said he retains extensive notes from their conversation, said "I stand by the story."
Norvel and St. Augustine's local board of directors, which favors keeping some limited form of St. Augustine's 60-year tradition of paddling, are scheduled to meet for the first time by telephone conference call today, board chairman Troy Henry has said.
The months-long controversy involving St. Augustine, one of the region's most celebrated schools, is nominally over paddling, but more deeply touches on themes of school autonomy, Catholic identity, and racial respect between the predominantly white educational community and African-American alumni, parents and educators at St. Augustine.
Norvel, 76, also told the Clarion Herald he did not seek the job of superior general when the Baltimore-based order of about 80 priests gathered in mid-June in Washington to elect new leaders.
He said before the election his name was not in the running for the leadership post.
The 140-year-old order, born out of a British missionary society, was created to minister to newly freed slaves. Norvel becomes its first African-American superior general.
© 2010 New Orleans Net LLC. All Rights Reserved.
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