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School CP - January 2004
Claremore Daily Progress, Oklahoma, 8 January 2004
Teacher receives sentence in corporal punishment case
By Troy Buchanan
The case of a 31-year-old private school teacher who was charged with a felony count of injury to minor child involving a 12-year-old student has finally come to a conclusion.
Wendall Ryan Mullins was charged in October 2001 with injury to minor child but the charge was amended to a misdemeanor count of assault and battery after Mullins entered a plea of no contest in Rogers County.
According to court records, the court found there "is a factual basis the defendant (Mullins) could be found guilty but withholds a finding ..."
Mullins received an 18-month deferred sentence and was fined $200 plus $100 victim compensation act fee. The court also ordered Mullins to get anger management assessment and serve 10 days in the Rogers County jail or complete 40 hours of community service.
Mullins, who teaches at Claremore Christian School, allegedly struck a 12-year-old student with a three-foot dowel rod after he suspected the student of passing a note in class, police said.
A Claremore police investigator said the student told police Mullins used a two-handed grip on the dowel rod "just like you would hold a baseball bat."
Mullins was arrested after police discovered what they called "massive bruising" on the student.
The statement released by the law firm defending Mullins stated "corporal punishment was administered in this circumstance and the custodial parents of the child have been made aware and have filed no complaint."
However, a civil suit was filed in Rogers County in May 2002 by the mother of the 12-year-old. The civil case was filed against Mullins and the Claremore Christian School Foundation, Inc.
After testimony was taken by both natural parents of the student, a settlement was approved but the settlement documents were ordered sealed by a Rogers County judge.
Florida Times-Union, Jacksonville, 12 January 2004
Spare the rod? Not at many public schools
Duval County schools lead the state in use of paddling as a form of punishment
By Cynthia L. Garza
Baker County schools Superintendent Paula Barton has a small paddle -- custom-fit to her hand -- stashed away in a corner of her office. Once in a while, she'll get a call from a parent requesting she bring it out.
She said they tell her: "Miss Barton, put it on them like you put it on me."
She speaks candidly about the tough-love discipline generations of schoolchildren have come to know and often accept. It's a tough-love discipline used just more than 3,700 times in the past decade and 405 times last year in Baker County schools, according to state records.
It was the most per-capita student paddlings compared to other Northeast Florida schools. The region's largest school system, Duval County, leads the state in its overall use of corporal punishment during the past 10 years, paddling students more than 15,000 times during that time, according to records obtained from the Florida Department of Education.
But spanking is a mostly unspoken form of discipline in many Northeast Florida public schools.
Statewide, about two-thirds of all Florida school systems paddled students last year. Most of the larger school systems -- including Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties -- haven't used corporal punishment in the past five years.
The numbers have dwindled significantly in the past 20 years. In 1981-82, a little more than 184,000 Florida students were paddled, compared to 11,000 spanked last year. During 1981-82, Duval County also spanked more students than any other Florida county.
While all of Baker County's five regular public schools and alternative school use corporal punishment, Duval County has extreme ends of use. Last year alone, the 1,300 paddlings that took place in Duval County schools happened in about a fourth of all its schools, with one school -- Northwestern Middle School -- using it 474 times alone.
The decision to use corporal punishment is set school by school. Most of the schools in the system don't use it.
"I think it's a punishment that swings either very positive or very negative," Duval County School Board member Vicki Drake said. "There doesn't seem to be a whole lot of middle ground."
Drake said its use depends on the principal and feedback from the parents. School officials and board members said they don't hear much about the subject from parents.
What generally is defined as spanking is one or more swats on the behind with a wooden paddle, officials said. Policy calls for the punishment to be delivered only by a school administrator, in his or her office, and with at least one other administrator present. The amount of force used isn't designed to hurt the student but to deliver what the administrator thinks a parent would judge a reasonable amount of pressure, Baker County High School Principal David Crawford said.
Duval County Parent Teacher Association President Reta Russell-Houghton said the state and national PTA have a position against the use of corporal punishment in schools.
"What does it teach children? That I'm bigger than you, therefore I can hit you?" Russell-Houghton asked. "There are other methods you can use with children."
The National PTA strongly favors abolishing corporal punishment in schools. For communities opposed to banning it, the group recommends establishing a corporal punishment policy that includes notifying parents and having a clear policy on when it is administered and why it is used. It also encourages districts to keep records of incidences of corporal punishment by race, gender and disability.
According to Duval County school records, which are kept by race and gender, nearly 80 percent of the paddlings last year went to black students. Forty-three percent of the county school system's student population last year was black.
Northwestern Middle School Principal Saryn Hatcher inherited the school that used corporal punishment the most last year.
There have been significantly fewer paddlings this year, with four reported to the district during the first quarter of the school year. For the most part, the community at the school is accepting of paddlings as a form of punishment, but since coming into his position Hatcher has tried to implement alternative discipline, he said.
One change Hatcher has made is that parents now have to provide written consent to the school that they want for their child to be paddled, Hatcher said. Duval County schools policy is the opposite, with a parent having to exempt his child from that form of punishment.
Duval County school officials still are required to get parental permission each time a spanking is administered.
Baker County's Crawford said the vast majority of parents expect that they are going to provide healthy levels of discipline.
"They want their young folks held accountable," he said.
Corporal punishment is done in Baker County in lieu of in-school detention. Students can be spanked for such offenses as disruptive behavior in the classroom, disrespecting a school employee, insubordination or abusive behavior toward other students.
Deciding how a student is disciplined is always left up to the parent, though, Crawford said.
"It's used with parent permission, and it's appreciated." said Barton, who is elected to her position as superintendent.
Clay County Superintendent David Owens said that, while corporal punishment is extremely effective and the option is open to any school administrator without having to notify parents, the paddle is a last resort. Last year, it was used 134 times in Clay County, according to state Department of Education records.
"We're living in a sue-happy society these days," Owens said. "It's not something I recommend because of the possible lawsuits involved."
Owens recalled using the paddle during his early years as principal of Clay High. Most of the time, it worked. Sometimes, parents requested the punishment. More often, students who were paddled never went through his office again.
Owens said he urges school administrators to turn to detention or in-school suspension or peer counseling. They're less-effective by comparison, he said, but could save the school district from court.
St. Johns County has used corporal punishment sparingly during the past decade, with 17 reported paddlings in 10 years, according to state Department of Education records.
Spanking is obsolete and was used years ago because the only other discipline option schools really had was out-of-school suspensions, said Jim Welu, St. Johns County director of student services and testing.
"Teachers today have more options to encourage positive change rather than spank them," Welu said. Students in St. Johns County instead are punished with such things as in-school suspensions or by having to pick up trash or clean graffiti in the schools, he said.
Times-Union writers Nin-Hai Tseng and Shawna Sundin contributed to this report.
© Copyright The Florida Times-Union
Wisconsin State Journal, Madison, 16 January 2004
School principal free on bond
PORTAGE -- The principal of St. John's Lutheran School is free on a $2,000 signature bond after allegedly slapping a 9-year-old student in November.
Dennis C. Andreasen, 63, of Portage, is charged with felony child abuse. Conditions of his bond include having no contact with the student and using no corporal punishment on any child.
Andreasen will return to Columbia County Circuit Court on March 1. If convicted of the charge, he faces up to six years in prison.
(Copyright (c) Madison Newspapers, Inc. 2004)
Florida Times-Union, Jacksonville, 17 January 2004
Talk of the Town
Discipline corporal and private
By Lamar Thames
I remember my first, and only, instance of corporal punishment. I was in the third grade at a school in Alcoa, Tenn., just outside Knoxville.
For some reason I walked off the school grounds with a couple of other boys. I can't tell you why I did that, other than my friends were doing it and it seemed like a reasonable thing to do. I think we were not happy about something that was going on at school. Bad food in the lunchroom, maybe.
A teacher saw us heading away from school, rounded us up and marched us into the principal's office. I wasn't sure what was going to happen but I knew it wasn't a good idea to be going into the principal's office for any reason.
Corporal punishment wasn't on my mind, however, since I wasn't sure what it was at the time. As we sat in the school secretary's office waiting to see the principal, one of the other students started crying. I think he had been there before and knew what was about to happen.
Soon, the principal called one of our group into his office. We heard a couple of loud "thwacks" and when the student came out he, too, was crying. Uh oh! I knew exactly what was about to happen then.
I sat there trying not to cry and wondering just how bad it would hurt. I bravely walked into the office when it was my turn and "assumed the position" -- bending over and touching my knees with my hands. Believe me, no amount of anticipation could have prepared me for the shock of how badly that first blow hurt. Nor the devastatingly worse second thwack.
While I would like to tell you the experience had a lasting affect on me and I never got into trouble again, it is just not true. I never received a spanking in school again, however, and I think part of the reason is the memory of the first one. That was especially true in Mr. White's class in the sixth grade at a school with the unlikely name of Fairyland Elementary. It was on Lookout Mountain, near Rock City.
From the first day of school, when Mr. White laid that big paddle on his desk without saying a word, I was as good as gold. Just the threat of that paddle, and the memory of the previous encounter, was enough to keep me on my toes -- at least in his class.
All this is to get around to talking about the report issued earlier this week about spanking, or corporal punishment, in schools. Clay County rated about average in its number of spankings, below Duval County but way, way ahead of St. Johns County.
I'm not advocating spanking as a means of punishment by any means. I think it worked on my generation more than half a century ago -- wow, that's a long time -- but it doesn't necessarily work for everyone. And I can't imagine knowingly subjecting a loved one to that kind of pain.
It's sort of like the admonishment "trust but verify." You don't necessarily want it to happen, but having it as a backup might not hurt.
© The Florida Times-Union
Florida Times-Union, Jacksonville, 26 January 2004
Letters from readers
A good way to discipline
A recent letter writer was appalled by the picture of the school administrator on the front cover holding a paddle.
I had the opposite reaction. I was thrilled. I had no idea that spanking was still allowed in the school system.
I was spanked (never beaten) as a child. I must say the very thought of the temporary pain of a spanking kept me out of a lot of trouble. I am grateful to my parents for this form of discipline.
I chose to spank my own children up to an age when other forms of discipline were just as effective or more effective.
I never spanked them until I had calmed down, and we always had a loving talk afterward. So far, they are happy, well-adjusted, obedient young teens.
I do realize that some children come into this world very compliant; a stern look or lecture is all it takes to keep them from challenging parental authority.
There are also children strong-willed enough that a spanking is "funny" and of no value. Most children fall in between and can benefit from the occasional spanking when they directly defy parental authority.
I am of the opinion that there are two major causes for the lack of discipline in children in today's society. The first is the removal of God in the school system and the removal of God in homes by parents who cannot seem to find the time to take their children to the church of their choice.
The second is the unfortunate brainwashing of parents by Dr. Spock and other psychologists who convinced them that spanking was cruel, would spur violence and would hurt their precious self-esteem.
Kudos to all parents who see the benefit of occasional spankings and have given their child's school administrators the permission to use it.
© The Florida Times-Union
Detroit News, Michigan, 26 January 2004
Ex-football coach reflects on actions
By Fred Girard
Three years of sleepless nights drew to an end for former Detroit Murray-Wright football coach Tony Blankenship when a jury granted only a modest award to a former player he had paddled. Omi Judkins and his mother, LaTanya Pruett, sued Blankenship for $50,000 for paddling Judkins, then a 15-year-old freshman, in 2001.
On Thursday, a Wayne County Circuit Court jury awarded Judkins $7,000.
"It was a sympathy verdict," said Blankenship's attorney, Glenn D. Oliver, of Detroit. "It was clear to us that the jury would have given a smaller amount if they hadn't believed three years' worth of court costs would have eaten up a smaller amount."
Oliver said he described to the jury a "clash of cultures," in which paddling can be seen as an act of tough love, and even become a tradition.
In an interview Saturday, Blankenship said paddling of athletes by coaches -- called "the wood" -- was "a common practice that had been going on over 30 years. I got paddled as a player, and it never was an issue.
"I grew up in a disciplinary home," he said. "I got a whuppin' if necessary. And I grew up in a community like that ? you had to stay in line with your aunts and uncles, too."
Blankenship played football at Murray-Wright before receiving a scholarship to the University of Michigan in 1989 as a defensive back. After graduating, he returned to his alma mater as an assistant in 1994 -- and found in the coach's office the very same paddle that had been used on him.
When he became head coach in 1997, Blankenship said, he used "the wood" only as a last resort, and never with the intent of inflicting damage.
"I care deeply for my kids, genuinely, from my heart," he said. I would never hurt a kid."
He said of Omi Judkins: "I still love the kid, and I always will. I told him after this was over, 'You're still one of my kids.'"
Blankenship, 33, who has three daughters, left Murray-Wright in 2002 to become an assistant coach at Wayne State University, a job that will end this June because of a change of head coaches.
He also became head coach of the Detroit Demolition of the Women's Professional Football League in 2002, and led the team to two consecutive championships.
Ledger-Enquirer, Columbus, Georgia, 29 January 2004
Mom seeks action against teacher
Assistant principal paddled 6-year-old
By Harry Franklin
The mother of a kindergarten student, whose paddling led to the arrest of an assistant principal, said Wednesday she's disappointed the official hasn't been suspended.
"My major concern is this assistant principal is still working," said Judy Youngblood of Warm Springs, mother of the 6-year-old boy who was paddled on Jan. 21. "The superintendent is not taking any action against him and he is still at the school."
Anthony Crawford, the first-year assistant principal at Mountain View Elementary School near Warm Springs, Ga., turned himself in to the Meriwether County Sheriff's Department Monday. He was charged with cruelty to children and was released on $5,000 bond.
Robert Hawk, the school system's superintendent, said he didn't know whether action was warranted by the school district at this time and that Marlowe Hinson, Mountain View's principal, observed the child's paddling. Corporal punishment, he said Tuesday, has been suspended at the school.
Youngblood acknowledged she gave school officials the OK to paddle her son, who she said has two medical conditions, attention deficit disorder and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. When he takes his medication, she said he acts fine. But when he misses it, he can be a problem.
She said she gave permission to paddle him for "refusing to write in his journal, spitting on the table and coloring on a chair with a crayon."
Youngblood said she noticed a problem that Wednesday evening when her son would not lean back on the car seat. "It didn't really click with me at the time," she said. "But when I got home, I said, 'Let me see your bottom' and noticed the bruising. On one cheek the bruise was 5 by 7 inches and on the other, 5 by 6 inches. The pediatrician's office measured them. I explained to Dr. Karen Harper with Pediatric Associates, Thomaston, what happened."
Harper had said she would contact the sheriff's office and the Department of Family and Children's Services if she found what Youngblood had described. "She contacted them the day after the paddling. We both felt it was in order," Youngblood said.
Youngblood said she feels that "what's right should be done."
The child has been returned to school, but Youngblood said she still would like for him to transfer to another school. However, because of her work schedule, she said she doesn't have time to drive him to a school that is 10 to 25 miles away, and that the school district isn't offering transportation to another school.
The cruelty charge could go to a Meriwether County grand jury Feb. 15.
© 2004 Ledger-Enquirer and wire service sources. All Rights Reserved.
News Journal, Mansfield, Ohio, 29 January 2004
Ashland schools weighing cuts
By Al Lawrence
ASHLAND -- Residents will find out next week which spending areas the Ashland City Schools board of education will consider for cuts if voters reject a 9.9-mill additional operating levy on the March ballot.
The board also voted to:
.............- eliminate corporal punishment in the district because its liability insurance carrier will no longer cover liability.
Copyright © 2004 News Journal. All rights reserved.
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