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www.corpun.com   :  Archive   :  2005   :  US Schools Nov 2005

-- THE ARCHIVE --


UNITED STATES

School CP - November 2005



Corpun file 16923

Tahlequah Daily Press, Oklahoma, 4 November 2005

Corporal punishment rare, but still applied occasionally

By Sean Kennedy
Press Staff Writer

Dr. John Cox doesn't like to use corporal punishment on students. But occasionally, he does bring out the paddle.

"Our policy is that we can use corporal punishment, but only as an extreme last resort," said Cox, Peggs superintendent.

Corporal punishment is allowed in Oklahoma, but most schools - like Peggs and other schools in Cherokee County - rarely use it to discipline students.

"I think corporal punishment is more of a brief deterrent," said Cox. "We try to work with the children, so they understand what they have done is wrong. I think that has more of a long-term deterrent effect."

In the early 1990s, State Superintendent of Schools Sandy Garrett tried to end corporal punishment, but the state Legislature left the decision up to individual districts.

"I am opposed to corporal punishment, but it's a local issue in Oklahoma," said Garrett.

Other schools in Cherokee County also have corporal punishment available as a disciplinary option, but usually require parental permission before it is administered.

"At the beginning of the year, in our information packets we send home with students, there are two forms for parents to select. One allows corporal punishment, and the other allows for suspension," said Tenkiller Superintendent Randy Rountree. "Even then, we only use it as a last resort."

The state keeps no record of the number of students who receive swats each year, or the number of districts that opt to use corporal punishment.

Tahlequah Public Schools' policy allows for corporal punishment as well, but it is only used after other options have been exhausted.

"Normally, kids are given a number of discipline options for the particular offense," said TPS Superintendent Paul Hurst. "Corporal punishment is administered as one option for grades K-12 that is at the disposal of school administrators."

Other schools have similar policies.

"We don't like to use corporal punishment, but it does act as a deterrent if the kids know it's an option," said Rountree. "We try numerous other things before we ever resort to corporal punishment. We don't do it very often."

Other punishments can include detention, written assignments, exclusion from school activity participation, loss of privileges, work detention, behavioral contracts, financial restitution, and in-school, short- or long-term suspension.

Under state law, teachers of children attending public schools "have the same right as a parent or guardian to control and discipline such child according to local policies during the time the child is in attendance or in transit to or from the school or any other school function authorized by the school district or classroom presided over by the teacher."

Briggs School's student handbook states for [sic] corporal punishment can be administered under certain circumstances. Discipline is the responsibility of the teacher, and children who do not conform to the rules and regulations, and continue to be a distracting element, must be corrected.

"We do use corporal punishment, but it isn't the first thing we go to," said Briggs Superintendent Speedy Chaffin. "Under certain circumstances, though, students are given the choice of being suspended for three days, or getting swats."

Parental permission is obtained before students are given swats. According to the Briggs policy, "corporal punishment will be used only when there is reason to believe it will be helpful in maintaining discipline or in the development of strong character and powers of self-control."

Parental consideration is pivotal at Tahlequah.

"At the beginning of each school year, we have parents state whether they will allow corporal punishment for their children," said Hurst. "We also call parents prior to corporal punishment being administered."

Schools also have strict guidelines on the actual paddling process. At TPS, for example, students are taken to a private area, where the punishment is administered in the presence of another teacher or administrator.

Parents can also opt to be present when their children receive punishment.

Corporal punishment is delivered with a paddle that is smooth and free of any indentations or protrusions.

The maximum number of swats varies by school. At Tahlequah, students can receive no more than two per day, while at Briggs, it is no more than three swats per offense.

Hurst said the punishment is used more often at the elementary level than at the junior high or high school, but even then, spankings are rare.




Corpun file 16924

Shelbyville Times-Gazette, Tennessee, 4 November 2005

To paddle or not to paddle?

By Clint Confehr


Terry Looper

Corporal punishment hasn't been used at Cascade High School for more than a decade, according to the principal.

Meanwhile, paddling "has its place" at Shelbyville Central High School, the principal said this week, but he doesn't do it and the only instances of paddling there have been in the vocational part of the school.

Cascade Principal Terry Looper and Central Principal Don Embry spoke about corporal punishment on Wednesday and Thursday on a condition that it be made clear: They're not commenting on what's alleged at Community High School.

"Child abuse" is what a Smyrna doctor wrote as her diagnosis for a Community High School boy whose parents say bruising on his backside is a result of paddling by the school's vice principal.


Don Embry

Neither principal was asked about Community High School. What's done at the other high schools was sought for perspective.

Corporal punishment "has its place when used properly, when used under the guidelines and policy of the Board of Education," Embry said. "However, I personally choose not to administer corporal punishment.

"We try to find other ways to work with students to deal with problems that do not involve corporal punishment," he said.

Other "corrective measures" at Central include detention hall during and after school and suspension, the later being used if, for example, a student brings marijuana to school. But then, other issues are raised, parents are brought in and legal issues may have to be addressed.

A student disciplinary board hearing might be convened at the school system's central office, a measure that Embry and Looper both mentioned as an avenue for the administration of discipline in schools.

Truancy and leaving a classroom without permission were two examples Embry named as examples of infractions that resulted in paddling in recent years.

Embry doesn't like to administer corporal punishment out of "personal choice," he said.

Still, he acknowledges there are various factors affecting decisions on whether paddling should be used.

"You have to look at the age of the student," Embry said. "Many times when they get to high school age, paddling is ineffective."

He also recognizes that out-of-school suspension can be counterproductive.

The suspension rate is going to affect attendance and that's a factor examined by the new federal law, No Child Left Behind, which judges schools on how effective they are in teaching students

Nevertheless, Embry says that may not be an issue with paddling.

"I would equate in-school suspension to corporal punishment," Embry said.

If a child breaks school rules in such a way as to warrant out-of-school suspension, then the attendance rate is affected and that may influence a school's rating under the federal law.

Embry elaborated, "Regular send-home suspension is a result of an infraction that's greater than what's to be punished by corporal punishment."

Fighting in school is an infraction that could lead to suspension out of school, he said. Truancy is an offense that leads to in-school suspension.

"We feel like we've got a well-run school, not to say we don't have problems," Embry said. "We do a tremendous amount of counseling with students."

Some parents endorse use of corporal punishment, he said. Those who write letters saying they don't want it used have that request honored.

"The last time I paddled a child was in 1996," Embry said, recalling when he was a vice principal.

At Cascade, Looper had a little trouble remembering the last time he administered corporal punishment. It was probably shortly after he became the principal at Cascade more than a decade ago. He does remember having paddled before that, "Way back, years ago when I was teaching in the classroom."

But years ago, Looper brought his faculty together to develop a plan for discipline.

"We worked real hard as faculty and staff on a discipline plan and we just don't have it [corporal punishment] in our plan," Looper said.

The plan includes a flow chart that outlines what happens at different stages of the plan to correct behavior. It includes what might be called a contract with the student so they know what's expected. Progress is monitored and parents are included at various points.

The academic discipline plan was developed and has been redeveloped over the years, but it's all followed one decision by Looper himself.

"I just decided we wouldn't do it," he said.




Corpun file 16912

Kentucky Standard, Bardstown, 6 November 2005

What's in store for state's education system?

By Ron Filkin
Publisher

(extracts)

Political stances for the 2006 legislative session and a futuristic view of education made for an interesting evening Thursday, at the Region IV Kentucky School Boards Association, hosted by the Bardstown City Schools.

The KSBA legislative advocacy agenda is filled with good stuff, but also had a couple of surprises, at least for me.

[...]

Here's some of the meat in the 2006 plan:

[...]

Safe schools are essential. Currently, state law allows an adult 18 years or older to lawfully bring a firearm on a school campus, as long as it is not removed from his or her vehicle. Amend the statute.

Duh, this is a change even Charlton Heston could approve.

Healthy kids, via healthy eating choices and physical activity habits.

KSBA is not pushing this, but I am: bring back discipline and real consequences for inappropriate behavior in the schools. Corporal punishment, as but one example, worked when I was in school and can work just as well, even better, today. Some daddies and mommies might not like it much, but that's tough.

As for the schools' yellow, liver-bellied insistence on due process and all other mid-'70s to now reform, throw out all of it. Have the legislature pass a law making it illegal for anyone to sue a school district for any reason.

Boo-hoo, wouldn't individual expression be at risk? Not really, but the undesired, unwanted behaviors would be.

With a few of these types of changes, it shouldn't take more than a year or two before the schools could start churning out a much improved product. We might just have a next generation of kids who not only trend to life-long learning but also show respect for their mothers and fathers, their schools and teachers and administrators, their elders, the property and rights of others, and, in general, our democratic institutions.

By the way, a wrong should be righted when discussing the waywardness of the past couple of generations of students. It wasn't the schools which lost control of the kids through the past 40 years or more. The problems rest squarely on the shoulders of parents and, in general, the demands of society. The schools are but a mirror image of both.

[...]




Corpun file 16911

Enid News-Eagle, Oklahoma, 6 November 2005

Commentary

Spare the rod and spoil the day

By Jeff Mullin

Jeff Mullin

As with so many things, it has a different name these days.

Nobody is short any more, instead they are "vertically challenged." Mushy movies are now known as "chick flicks," while "gay," no longer means happy.

The same is true of corporal punishment, which used to be known simply as "getting swats." Whatever it is called, the practice has, in recent years, fallen out of favor as a means for disciplining students.

The practice is still legal in Oklahoma schools, but it isn't often used. The state Board of Education issued a resolution against corporal punishment in 1992, but left the decision up to individual school districts.

It wasn't common when I was in school, but it was a threat. I grew up in an era when "spare the rod and spoil the child" was a parental battle cry.

Some teachers were out front with their weapons of choice when it came to corporal punishment. These were impressive paddles, normally painted in vivid colors and filled with holes, to help increase the velocity, and thus, the severity, of the blows.

Other teachers were sneakier, more deceptive. They hid their paddles in deep desk drawers, or in the dusky recesses of their closets.

Either way, I don't remember too many kids getting swats when I was in school. Maybe we were better-behaved then, but that's not likely.

In fact, throughout my school career I only saw one student struck by a teacher. It was in a junior high math class, and one of the class cut-ups had talked his way into a front row seat, right in front of where the teacher stood during his lectures.

One day the young man put his head down on his desk and fell asleep, which obviously angered the teacher. He walked over, picked up a yardstick from where it was leaning against the wall, and whacked the kid in the head with it, snapping it in two -- the yardstick, not his head.

I don't know what kind of impression the sudden burst of violence made on the young man, likely in the form of a lump on his noggin, but it certainly had an effect on me. I was afraid to so much as look crosswise at that particular teacher the rest of the school year.

A couple of years earlier, however, I had found myself face to face with the business end of a paddle.

It was my sixth grade year and, for the first time in my life I had a male teacher. Mr. O'Keefe was the coolest guy on the planet, as far as I was concerned. He was young and handsome, and all the young girls were smitten with him. He also drove a Plymouth Barracuda, and all the young boys were smitten with it.

One day a couple of classmates and I got into trouble for something or other, the nature of which escapes me after so many years.

Whatever we did, we had pushed Mr. O'Keefe to his limits, and beyond. When he yelled at us, he gave us a choice. We could either come in after school for swats, or he would send a note home to our parents.

I immediately opted to be beaten. I would cheerfully have accepted a flogging with a cat-o-nine-tails rather than facing the combined wrath of my parental units.

I spent the rest of the day in a fog, obsessing about my impending punishment. I knew that a note home would result not in physical punishment, but even more painful lectures and expressions of disappointment.

When the last bell rang, it sounded like a death knell to me. I waited until the room had cleared of all but the three prisoners, then walked to Mr. O'Keefe's desk.

I was too quick, it seems, to opt for swats. I should have pulled a Brer Rabbit on him, but wasn't clever enough. He smiled as he handed me a note addressed to my parents.

"I figure this will hurt you worse," he said.

He had no idea.

Mullin is senior writer of the News-Eagle.

Copyright 1999-2005 cnhi, inc.




Corpun file 16915

masthead
Houston Chronicle, Texas, 8 November 2005

Local districts keep right to use paddle

Texas AG was asked to clarify a law defining who may use corporal punishment

By Polly Ross Hughes

AUSTIN - Local school districts did not lose their right to use corporal punishment under a new state law that defines who may spank a child, according to an opinion issued Monday by Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott.

Texas Education Commissioner Shirley J. Neeley sought Abbott's ruling after local school districts grew concerned about House Bill 383 by Rep. Harold Dutton, D-Houston.

Dutton's bill states that corporal punishment can be used "only" by parents, grandparents, stepparents or a guardian who has a duty to control or reasonably discipline a child.

"House Bill 383 recognizes an express right in certain persons to use corporal punishment in the reasonable discipline of a child," Abbott wrote. "It does not prohibit the use of corporal punishment by school districts."

The Houston Independent School District stopped paddling in 1997 and banned corporal punishment in 2001.

Dutton said he has no quarrel with Abbott's opinion, although he wasn't thinking about schools when he wrote the bill.

Rather, he was trying to protect the right of parents to discipline their children without fear that child protective services would remove them from the home.

"There was some confusion as to whether or not a parent can use corporal punishment to discipline their child," he said. "Parents wanted the affirmative right to use corporal punishment. We don't want the government stepping in."

In supporting his opinion, Abbott noted a House debate between Rep. Robert Talton, R-Pasadena, and Dutton. Dutton had assured Talton, "that is correct" when Talton asked whether school districts could still use corporal punishment.

"The request was sent because it was unclear whether that pertained to schools or not," said Texas Education Agency spokeswoman Suzanne Marchman.

Marchman said school districts individually set discipline policies, including whether to use corporal punishment and whether to seek a parent's permission first.

"Our position is that is a local decision. Schools and communities can best determine the needs of their students. The districts that use corporal punishment or principals that use it say it is a last resort," said Archie McAfee, executive director of the Texas Association of Secondary School Principals.

Copyright 2005 Houston Chronicle Austin Bureau




Corpun file 16917

The Tennessean, Nashville, 9 November 2005

Fayetteville principal severely beaten in his office

TBI joins in search for pair that attacked popular educator

By Leon Alligood
Staff Writer

(extracts)

In Fayetteville, the question on everybody's mind, from the clothing shops on the square to the downtown meat-and-three cafes, is this: Who would want to harm Steve Steelman?

Late Monday afternoon, Principal Steelman was in his office at Fayetteville Intermediate School when two masked people stormed his office and beat him severely about the face. His attackers left him bloodied on the floor, and he crawled out into a hallway where the school librarian found him about 4:30 p.m., according to authorities.

[...]

"He would be the last one in the world to be the target of something like this," said Billy Joe Evans, director of Fayetteville city schools. "He is well-known, well-liked. He is active in his church.

[...]

"A paddle in the office was taken as evidence, but we're not sure if it was used," Carver said.

Steelman is a patient at Huntsville Hospital in Huntsville, Ala. Hospital officials declined to comment on his condition, citing patient confidentiality rules. However, friends of the principal who are in contact with the family said Steelman was in stable condition after surgery to repair his tongue and face.

[...]




Corpun file 16921

Shelbyville Times-Gazette, Tennessee, 10 November 2005

Paddling investigation by DHS continues

By Clint Confehr

As a Community High School vice principal says the sheriff's investigation found no child abuse from corporal punishment administered by him, a state spokesman reports the Department of Children's Services is "still investigating" the paddling.

"We're aware of the situation," DCS spokesman Rob Johnson said Wednesday afternoon. "We are investigating, our Special Investigative Unit is. Our investigations can stretch a couple of weeks. Our SIU is precisely for this kind of situation."

Nevertheless, Keith Williams, an assistant principal at the high school in Unionville, has provided School Superintendent Ed Gray with a written statement that the Bedford County Sheriff's Department has exonerated him.

"They found no basis for the pressing of criminal charges against me regarding a spanking administered Oct. 19," Williams told Gray in an e-mail sent after school yesterday.

During Oct. 26-28, TV, Internet and newspaper reports quoted Freddy and Tracy Manus of Unionville and their son, Samuel, 14, as saying the eighth grader was paddled Oct. 19. The corporal punishment was for an alleged infraction of school bus behavior rules on Oct. 18. Samuel told his parents on Oct. 23. The next day, Freddy Manus took his son to the superintendent who advised their alternatives included going to the sheriff, which is what they did next. That was 18 days ago now.

The time-frame is of interest because state law says no arrest warrant shall be issued for a teacher or principal without an investigation reported by "appropriate law enforcement officials" and "independent medical verification of injury" presented to a judge or magistrate "within 15 days ... of notification."

About 10 days after Manus and his son went from Gray's office to the sheriff's department, Williams was informed by a sheriff's officer that "law enforcement officers presented a report of their investigation to the district attorney's office and to a judge," the vice principal told Gray.

Prosecutors and the judge "found no basis for ... charges," Williams said.

The Manus family accused Williams.

"This man is a faith-based Christian guy," County Commissioner Roger Brothers said Wednesday. "Folks made accusations. If he's cleared, it should be reported."

Community High School Principal Robert Ralston yesterday confirmed information from Brothers and others that Williams has said the sheriff's investigation found no child abuse as stated in the diagnosis of Samuel Manus by Dr. Corbi Milligan of Smyrna.

"That's what the police released to him," Ralston said. "I don't know if they'll take any other route. They have made a statement to Mr. Williams."

Calls to Williams and requests through Ralston and Gray asking him to confirm the information have resulted in no direct contact with the vice principal, although on Friday last week he told the Shelbyville Times-Gazette that the Manus' allegations "were totally inconsistent in proximity, time, and manner of a spanking administered Oct. 19 ... [and] ... the true source of the injury will be determined and revealed in time."

Williams' statement last Friday was in response to information he received one week ago from the sheriff's department, Williams wrote to Gray yesterday.

Another time factor was revealed yesterday.

The Smyrna doctor who diagnosed Samuel Manus as a victim of child abuse complied with state law that requires people suspecting abuse to report it to the Department of Children's Services. Failure to do so can result in a fine of $50 to $2,500.

However, it took Milligan from the afternoon of Oct. 24 until yesterday at about 3:20 p.m. to report her findings to the DCS on a toll-free number established for such reports. Her first three calls to DCS were answered by a machine that put her on hold, thanked her for calling and asked her to be patient.

"I sat here and worked on patient charts while on hold with the speaker phone," Milligan said of a five-minute wait on Wednesday, adding she wasn't complaining because she knows state officials are busy.

DCS spokesman Johnson concurred, "Sometimes the lines are busy and the waits are long, but we do encourage people to call."

The doctor stands by her diagnosis.

"Samuel's injuries were unfortunate and excessive," she said Wednesday morning. "I'd hope that they've been an eye-opener to parents and administrators"" about corporal punishment.

The boy suffered "a knot and bruise on [his] lower spine [and] swelling due to excessive force ... punishment with a wooden paddle," Milligan wrote in her physician notes.

Told of Commissioners Brothers' and Sewell Griffy's desire for a report to exonerate Williams since they'd been told the sheriff's investigation found no abuse, the boy's father replied, "I don't see how it's not child abuse.

"My doctor's to send a letter to Children's Services," Freddy Manus said, adding he'd be calling his lawyer again.

Manus' attorney, Cara Gruszecki Smalley of Norton Law Firm, was meeting with clients when sought at her office yesterday and no return call was received by this morning at presstime.

Meanwhile, Samuel Manus "has not been in any trouble" since his Oct. 19 paddling, according to his father.

Detective Lt. Chris Brown was named by the superintendent and the high school principal in Unionville as the officer who Williams quoted as reportedly advising no abuse was found. An official at the sheriff's office said Brown had been off duty this week.

Sheriff Clay Parker said Brown will give his findings to the district attorney's office which would present the information to a judge.

That's in accordance with state law provisions mandating a hearing within 15 days if a warrant is to be issued.

Presentation of an investigator's report, or not making a presentation to a judge, "is a decision that rests with the DA's office," Parker said. "They decide if they can prosecute. We become a witness after presentment of the case."

The sheriff expressed confidence that Brown had conferred with DCS.

Assistant District Attorney Richard Cawley referred questions to Acting District Attorney Eddie Barnard in Lewisburg. He's leading the office since the elected district attorney in the 17th Judicial District, Mike McCown, continues to recover from a cerebral hemorrhage. Calls to Barnard resulted in no contact.

Some lack of public information due, in part, to an inability to comment has been frustrating for Williams, the man accused and yet not charged either.

"There are confidentiality laws we must follow," the DCS spokesman said.

It was a frustration expressed by Thomas Intermediate School Principal Karen Scoggins who said what she could about an incident at her school recently.

Still, Williams has complained that "false allegations have fueled outside political groups who know nothing of who we are or the values that we work to uphold."

Tom Johnson of Nashville will represent Tennesseans For Nonviolent Discipline at the Nov. 17 meeting of the Bedford County Board of Education. Peggy Dean of Waxhaw, N.C., was denied a place on the agenda by board Chairman Barry D. Cooper who told Dean, a member of Parents and Teachers Against Violence in Schools, that he and Gray decided only one presentation will be heard on the same subject.

Copyright 2005, Shelbyville Times-Gazette



blob Follow-up: 4 April 2006 - Community paddling wasn't child abuse, says state


Corpun file 16931

The Daily Herald, Columbia, Tennessee, 11 November 2005

School officials probe paddling incident

By Thomas Munro
Staff Writer

A Mt. Pleasant resident has alleged a paddling of her son at Mt. Pleasant Middle School crossed the line into child abuse, but a grand jury disagreed.

The 38-year-old woman said her 12-year-old son was struck nine times with a paddle after misbehaving at the school late last week. She said he was paddled three times by a teacher, who she said then handed the paddle to the boy's biological father.

The woman said the biological father, whom she said has no legal custody of the child, hit him twice with the paddle, which broke on the second strike. The woman and her son say the biological father then paddled the boy four more times with the broken paddle. According to school board policy, corporal punishment should be limited to three strikes.

The boy's mother filed a complaint of abuse against the teacher and the biological father and Mt. Pleasant police investigated the incident, Detective Tommy Goetz said. The detective said Monday he had heard there was a videotape of part of the incident but he had not seen the tape.

Goetz took the case to a grand jury Tuesday. The grand jury declined to issue an indictment, District Attorney General Mike Bottoms said Wednesday.

"Quite frankly I was a little bit surprised, but (the grand jurors have) got a job to do, and I guess they did it," Bottoms said.

Director of School Eddie Hickman said he was investigating the situation and would be "dealing with it appropriately." He had no other comment.

The woman said her son was bruised by the paddle. The boy's upper legs and buttocks showed extensive bruising. He also had bruises under his left arm, which he said he suffered when the teacher tried to restrain him.

Mt. Pleasant Middle School Principal Elliotte Kinzer and School Board Attorney Jason Golden declined to comment on the case or confirm the names of those involved, saying the matter remains under investigation.

The woman and her son said the teacher and the biological father were the only people present for the paddling. According to School Board policy, a second professional employee should be present to witness any corporal punishment.

The woman's husband, 44, who said he has had custody of the boy throughout his life, said he brought the boy to the school Monday morning and spoke with Kinzer and Assistant Principal Christine Potts. He said he told them the boy would no longer be attending the school and he intends to homeschool the child.

The boy's mother said police collected the broken paddle as evidence. She said she agreed to the paddling and sent her ex-husband, a Summertown resident, to oversee it. She said the boy has been paddled twice before — once in Columbus, Ga., when he was 8, and once last year in Hickman county.

The woman said the boy suffers from attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, seasonal affective disorder, oppositional defiant disorder and bipolar disorder. She said he takes medication and sees a psychiatrist in Mt. Pleasant but is not a special education student.

She said she does not have the money for a lawyer but intends to sue the schools through Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee and the Cumberlands.

According to a review carried out by the Central Office at the request of The Daily Herald, Mt. Pleasant Middle School reported two incidents of corporal punishment last year.

The School Board declined to review its corporal punishment policy at a policy work session Nov 3.




Corpun file 16919

masthead
The Commercial Appeal, Memphis, Tennessee, 14 November 2005

Schools' discipline program posts gains

Substitute for paddle has gaps, draws fire from teachers, parents

By Halimah Abdullah and Ruma Banerji Kumar

(extracts)

Memphis city school officials say the district's sweeping Blue Ribbon behavior initiative is working, and offer evidence that the number of students sent to the office or suspended for disciplinary reasons has declined quite a bit over a year ago. The figures show an increase in fighting, but a decline in weapons possessions.

Still, officials acknowledge there are problems with inconsistent and inaccurate reporting of offenses. For example, in August and September, the Memphis Police Department recorded 36 incidents of weapons offenses on school grounds. For roughly the same term, the district reported seven.

Supt. Carol Johnson admits there are "glitches" in the new system, but she says it will take time -- not months, but years -- to change a culture and mindset. "Some aspects (of Blue Ribbon) are working better than others," Johnson said. "Things aren't going well at some schools."

In the first three months of this school year, 185 families asked for safety transfers. That compares with 257 families who asked for safety transfers during all of last year.

In late September, a teacher's union survey of 8,000 city school members ranked Blue Ribbon and student behavioral problems second only to salary among areas of concern. Some educators say they feel administrative pressure to underreport offenses and don't feel safe -- in the words of one teacher -- in the current "climate of disrespect" among students.

Late last month, an exasperated group of Hamilton High teachers sent a letter of concern to their principal, Isaac White, and to the superintendent's office. The teachers complained of weak intervention by administrators when students curse at them. They also complained about low morale and of feeling "chastised."

"When a teacher is attacked, we don't want to hear about the 'feelings' of the perpetrator," the letter reads. "We want to be supported. We want to see the perpetrator punished and removed from our school."

The Blue Ribbon Initiative took root just weeks after the city school board voted last November to ban corporal punishment. Before the ban, Memphis was one of the eight largest districts in the country that still allowed corporal punishment.

To replace the paddle, the district added dozens of in-school suspension teachers. It provided behavior and classroom management training and conferences for principals, teachers and parents. It also changed the process by which teachers and schools are supposed to handle discipline problems.

"Blue Ribbon has been a success in that there are fewer behavioral problems," said Suzanne Kelly, the district's chief of staff.

Under the Blue Ribbon system, teachers must make several attempts to correct a student's bad behavior before reporting an offense to the office. This correction may include pulling a student aside or enlisting peer mediation.

Bad behavior is reported to the office only after a teacher's efforts fail. An assistant principal steps in next and tries to get parents involved. The assistant principal might pair the student with a guidance counselor.

If those efforts don't help, a team of school staffers called the "student support team," or S-Team for short, steps in and makes several attempts to correct behavior by working with social workers to find out why the student is misbehaving.

If all of those efforts fail, and if the student's behavior gets worse, the offense is officially logged with the district.

That's how it's supposed to work. But how and whether offenses are recorded vary from school to school and even within schools, Johnson said. For example, one school secretary might record a fight between students who hit each other with pencils as an assault; another staffer might classify the same brawl as a weapons offense.

[...]

In the classroom, faced with lengthy and inconsistent reporting processes, some teachers are passing on reporting altogether.

They say to themselves, "When I look at the paperwork required I'll find some other way to take care of this," New said.

For a few teachers, taking care of it means sitting back and letting students blow off steam.

"I passed one classroom and there was a girl cursing somebody out," said Kathy Howell, whose son is a freshman at Trezevant High School. "The whole class was sitting there. The teacher was too. The teachers feel as if their hands are tied because of Blue Ribbon."

Last month, Howell was so frustrated by behavioral problems at her school, she asked school board members to take a hard look at Blue Ribbon.

"I have heard from a lot of parents that total removal of corporal punishment in their opinion was not a good idea," said board president Wanda Halbert. "I have heard from some people that it was not a good idea for their school. But I've also heard from some schools, like White Station Middle, that it was great for their school. I'm just waiting for the year end of the report from the superintendent to see how Blue Ribbon worked."

District officials said they are "disappointed and discouraged" by Blue Ribbon's shortcomings.

"Underreporting is the worst thing that can happen to us in the initial stages of Blue Ribbon," Kelly said. "It's the data that's going to drive how we do things in the future."

[...]

Copyright 2005, commercialappeal.com - Memphis, TN. All Rights Reserved.



blob Follow-up: 24 January 2006 - Thomas: Now it's up to parents to pull out the paddle


Corpun file 16938

Waynesville Daily Guide, Missouri, 16 November 2005

Stopping the swats

Plato school board votes to end corporal punishment

By Darrell Todd Maurina

PLATO — Superintendent Leon Slape believes corporal punishment works. Many members of the Plato R-V School Board agree. But on Thursday, Plato became one of only a few local districts to bar corporal punishment of children for school misbehavior.

The district's about-face occurred after a Plato parent complained to school and law enforcement authorities regarding corporal punishment being administered to her child. Texas County Prosecuting Attorney Michael R. Anderson produced a report on Oct. 19 concluding that there was no criminal conduct involved and that no charges would be filed. According to state law, corporal punishment of students by teachers is not prohibited so long as the district has a policy on the matter and that policy is followed, and Anderson said the school's policy was followed.

But that wasn't all his report said.

"I am very concerned and quite dismayed that a state law exists... which allows corporal punishment in schools, and at the same time places the burden of exercising that punishment on educators," Anderson wrote.

"I work closely with the personnel at the South Central Correctional Center in Licking," Anderson wrote. "If a department of corrections officer took a paddle to an inmate, even a hardened killer facing multiple life sentences, that officer would undoubtedly face criminal charges. If we don't allow corporal punishment there, how can we put school personnel in the untenable position of administering it to children?"

Anderson suggested that the Plato school board and other area schools "seriously reconsider their policies regarding corporal punishment and consider other means of discipline."

According to the prosecuting attorney's letter, that would not only be for the "safety and well-being of the children involved," but also would relieve school employees "of the risk of possible criminal or civil liability."

Slape told school board members on Thursday that he saw little choice but to follow Anderson's advice.

"It seems they keep taking more and more control away from us as to what we can do by way of punishment," Slape said. "It's becoming very risky to continue to administer corporal punishment. I think it can be effective, there are times it's not effective, but it puts our teachers at risk."

Slape said that after discussing the matter with his three principals, the school staff had come to the conclusion that a new means of discipline was needed as an alternative to corporal punishment. Slape proposed the creation of an in-school suspension program.

"Of course, to do that it would take a staff person," Slape said. "We could probably get by with a part-time person."

A number of board members questioned that proposal.

"I can't understand how in-school suspension would be more effective than out-of-school suspension," said board president Mike Friend. "The only real punishment is they can't be with their friends."

Board member Dewayne Baker said he didn't like the idea either.

"I have heard from a number of constituents who are not in favor of eliminating corporal punishment," Baker said.

"If someone is not inconvenienced or suffers some hardship, it is not punishment," Baker said. "In-school suspension is just another cost to the district because we have to hire someone to take care of them, isn't that right?"

High school principal Shannon Crain reminded board members that corporal punishment was not being meted out to students by staff decision but rather because the parents selected that option among others given to them. The school's policy specified that corporal punishment was to be administered only with a paddle and only to the buttocks, and "administered so that there can be no chance of bodily injury or harm." Striking the student in the face or head, or doing so in the presence of other students or without the presence of a witness, are specifically prohibited.

Crain said in-school suspension can be effective depending on whom the district hired to administer the program, and Baker agreed that a strict discipline program in prisons worked.

"I know a guy who's had to spend time in prison," Baker said. "He said he even spent 48 hours in a little cubbyhole, no TV, no cigarettes, nothing to read, no one to talk to except some stranger he didn't know. He said, 'I don't ever want to go back there again.'"

"We won't let them smoke cigarettes either," Crain said, leading to laughs from the board.

Responding to board questions, the three principals said Plato had 42 high school discipline cases in the previous month, 72 in the middle school, and 12 at the elementary level. In-school suspension was actually used on nine cases at the middle school and two at the elementary school, but middle school principal Karissa McNiel said she would have used it 20 times at in her building and Crain said he would have used it five times at the high school if a formal in-school suspension program had been available.

"I know at that age they really like being with their friends but they need supervision, and when they are in the office I get nothing done," McNiel said.

Board member Kevin Hutsell said he didn't think in-school suspension would work.

"I know if I had been in school I would have enjoyed in-school suspension," Hutsell said.

"There's got to be some sting to it," Baker said. "It's like paddling; if there's no sting to it, it's not punishment. If we're not going to do the paddling, there still has to be some sting to it."

"It's going to have to be a hard-core drill sergeant," Baker said.

"I know a few, but they're not available," said board member Patti Niebrugge. "I'm afraid they'd get in trouble for their mouth. Boy, I never heard cussing like that before I went to work at Fort Leonard Wood."

After extended debate, the board adopted a revised policy that still allows staff to defend themselves against assaults.

According to the final revision, staff members "may use reasonable physical force against a student without advance notice to the principal, if it is essential for self-defense, the preservation of order, or for the protection of other persons or property of the school district." Alternatives to corporal punishment will now include in-school suspension, after school detention, Saturday school detention, out of school suspension and expulsion.

Copyright 2005 Waynesville Daily Guide




Corpun file 16945

Tyler Morning Telegraph, Texas, 17 November 2005

Paddle policy splits TISD board vote

By Betty Waters
Staff Writer

(extracts)

On a split vote, the Tyler Independent School District board approved Thursday a revised student discipline policy that continues to allow corporal punishment - paddling - as long a parent or legal guardian approves. It also specifies the type of paddle used.

The revised policy further deletes teachers from the list of personnel authorized to administer corporal punishment. Only a principal, assistant principal, instructional consultant, campus director or assistant director may paddle students under the new guidelines.

Trustees voted, 4-2, to adopt the revised student discipline policy after several earlier discussion sessions in which they debated the pros and cons of corporal punishment.

Board Vice President Kristen Baldwin and Trustee Michelle Carr cast the dissenting votes after again speaking out in opposition to corporal punishment.

"I don't think it's effective," Ms. Baldwin said, adding that she instead favors a system of rewards, praise, mentoring and other strategies to promote good student behavior. The costs of corporal punishment exceed the perceived benefits, she maintained, voicing concern about inconsistent use in the district among different student groups.

Children in minority and lower socioeconomic groups receive corporal punishment 10 times more than other children and there could be legal consequences for inappropriate use, Ms. Baldwin said.

Trustee Michelle Carr, agreeing it is not an effective tool, stressed she is "not light on discipline" and realizes the need for clear discipline. But Ms. Carr said she is heavy on proactive reinforcement of good behavior and contended that there is no place for corporal punishment in the schools.

Ms. Carr asked for an ongoing report about when and where corporal punishment is used and how many students are paddled repeatedly. She said she would also like to see whether a new "Capturing Kids' Hearts" program in the district might have an effect on discipline.

President Andy Bergfeld and trustees Brad Spradlin, Therelee Washington and Ron Vickery voted for the policy revision. Trustee Orenthia Mason was absent.

Spradlin said the revised policy puts the final decision on whether a student may receive corporal punishment where it belongs - with parents. The policy is the best the district can come up with, he added.

Trustee Ron Vickery said he hopes it is used as "an element of last resort" and contended that it needs to be available for use if all else fails. He urged personnel to document that they have contacted parents before administering corporal punishment.

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott recently issued an opinion that public schools did not lose their right to use spank students when the state Legislature enacted House Bill 383 stating only parents, grandparents, stepparents or a guardian may use corporal punishment.

[...]

Under the revised corporal punishment section of Tyler ISD's student discipline policy, campus principals and directors are authorized to determine whether corporal punishment will or will not be used on their campus.

Parents/legal guardians of students on campuses that use corporal punishment will be required to indicate on forms whether they want their child to be subject to paddling.

In addition, before a student is paddled, the policy requires school representatives to obtain approval from a parent or legal guardian of a student for each use of corporal punishment.

The policy states corporal punishment will be administered in the presence of one other district professional employee, and out of the view of other students.

According to the policy, corporal punishment can only be administered using a paddle made of wood or plastic of "reasonable width, length and thickness" - no more than a quarter-inch by 3 inches by 18 inches.

The policy bars use of belts, dowel rods and paddles constructed of materials other than wood or plastic.

[...]

Tyler Morning Telegraph 2005




Corpun file 16949

The Southeast Missourian, Cape Girardeau, Missouri, 19 November 2005

Scott City paddling within guidelines, school board says

The student's parent had filed a complaint alleging child abuse

By Aurora Meyer
Southeast Missourian

A Scott City school administrator's paddling of a student on Nov. 11 followed school policy, Scott City school board members determined in a closed meeting Wednesday.

The school corporal punishment policy was followed and the school board concluded the allegation of child abuse was unsubstantiated, according to the summary of the meeting provided by superintendent Diann Bradshaw on Friday.

The student's parent had filed a complaint against the principal alleging child abuse. Bradshaw said corporal punishment is used as a disciplinary measure from time to time. "If a student has problems, we try to deal with them in several different ways. Before we issue corporal punishment we follow the policy."

In Missouri, each local board of education establishes its own discipline policy, including the use of corporal punishment. The statute enabling the use of corporal punishment states that spanking administered by certified school district personnel is not considered child abuse.

Policies at Jackson and Cape Girardeau and public schools provide for corporal punishment, but officials said it is not used.

"We have it in the policy, but we do not permit it to happen," Jackson superintendent Dr. Ron Anderson said.

In Cape Girardeau schools, the policy permits between one and four swats with a paddle. At least one certified employee must witness the paddling. But superintendent Dr. David Scala, who joined the school system last summer, said he is not aware of corporal punishment being used in any of the district's schools.

Central Junior High school principal Lee Gattis said he has not administered any corporal punishment in the past 10 years.

"I haven't done it in 31 years, and I don't plan to start now," Central High School principal Dr. Mike Cowan said.

Notre Dame Regional High School does not have a corporal punishment policy and does not allow corporal punishment. The school uses other measures, such as detentions, instead of corporal punishment. At Eagle Ridge Christian School, if a parent asks administrators to paddle their child that gives them the OK, but it's not something they do as a rule, said Michelle Hahn, spokeswoman for the school. She also said she has never seen a student paddled at the school except by a parent.

Saxony Lutheran principal Craig Ernstmeyer was not available for comment.

In Scott City schools, corporal punishment consists of swatting a student's buttocks with a paddle and must be done in a way so no bodily harm comes to the child, according to the board's policy. It is permitted as "a measure of correction or maintaining discipline and order in schools. However, it shall be used only when all other alternative means of discipline have failed."

Twenty-two states allow corporal punishment of students, including Missouri. In the most recent statistics available, the 1999-2000 school year, Missouri ranked ninth in the number of students paddled. During that year 9,223 students were paddled in Missouri schools.

Approximately a third of all Missouri school districts ban corporal punishment, according to the Center for Family Policy and Research in Columbia. Those districts account for about two-thirds of all Missouri public school students.

This year, state Rep. Barbara Fraser, D-St. Louis County, introduced a bill that would prohibit public school districts from administering any corporal punishment. The bill died in committee. Fraser also tried in 2003 and 2004 to win a ban on corporal punishment and failed each time.

Copyright 2005, semissourian.com




Corpun file 16948

logo
KTRK-TV (ABC13), Houston, Texas, 19 November 2005

Mother wants answers after paddling

Son required medical attention after school punishment

By Gene Apodaca

(11/19/05 - KTRK/CLEVELAND, TX) - A student was paddled at school, and now his mother wants answers for the school's choice of punishment.

Diane Schauer doesn't argue that her son deserved to be punished, but it was the type of punishment he got that left her fuming.

"I was very angry," she said. "I'm beyond angry."

Two weeks ago, Jacob Schauer was caught getting leaving Cleveland Middle School early. For his punishment, he was sent to the coach's office where he had to endure a series of paddles.

"I can't describe it," said Jacob. "It hurt really bad."

Schauer claims that the paddling was so hard that Jacob still aches with pain. A doctor even prescribed the teen muscle relaxers so that he can sleep.

"It hurt. It stung," said Jacob. "It was like a bunch of bees stinging at once."

What troubles Schauer the most is that she claimed to have signed a form denying teachers the right to paddle her son. When she complained to the principal, she claims her concerns were ignored.

"I said, 'Don't hit and whoop him' and he said 'We don't need your permission. That's just a courtesy,'" said Schauer. "Then why send it home if it's a courtesy?"

In a statement released by Cleveland ISD, officials deny any wrongdoing. The statement read:

  • "We did not violate any law, and as a courtesy to parents, we do ask them, but we don't, by state law, need their permission."

"They cannot whoop our children," said Schauer. That is a parent's job. We gave birth to those children. We created those kids. It's our job to discipline them that way, not anyone else's."

Both the coach and principal did not want to talk about the incident.

There was some confusion recently with the passing of a new state House bill. It said only parents, grandparents, step-parents or a guardian could use corporal punishment such as paddling. But recently, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott issued his opinion that public schools did not lose their right to spank students under this new bill, and that a professional school district employee may use corporal punishment as permitted by state law.

Copyright 2005 ABC Inc., KTRK-TV Houston.



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Corpun file 17055

Cleveland Advocate, Texas, 22 November 2005

Parent upset with CISD's discipline tactics

By Roycelyn Bastian

(extract)

A Cleveland Junior High School mom is upset over an incident involving her 14-year-old son.

A school employee administered corporal punishment to eighth grader, Jakob Schauer Nov. 4.

Jakob was disciplined for leaving the campus before the school day was over.

"He was paddled with a board and I believe they hurt his lower back. I don't hit my children with a board so why should they?" Dyana Schauer, Jakob's mother, asked.

When the incident happened school officials did not contact Jakob's parents.

"No one called me or asked my permission to discipline my child in that manner. I would not have known that it happened if my son did not tell me," Schauer said. The mother contacted the school to try to set up a meeting to get answers on the incident.

"At first no one would talk to me. I tried to set up a meeting with the teacher who hit my child, and he did not want to talk to me. Eventually, I was told by the superintendent that the district had the right to hit my child," Schauer said.

After speaking with interim superintendent for Cleveland ISD, Jacob Sherman, he explained the district's policy on corporal punishment.

"According to state law, it states that teachers and educators can administer corporal punishment to students.

By law, school districts do not have to ask parents or legal guardians for permission when it administers punishment."

Seeing how this law could cause miscommunication between parents and the school district, Cleveland ISD takes steps to minimize concerns.

"This district (Cleveland ISD) goes one step further. We send home slips at the beginning of the school year. If a parent says no to corporal punishment, we try to honor their request, however by law we do not need to have permission. The district did not violate the law," Sherman said. "If a problem arises with a student, we would rather handle it with the parents. We don't want to discipline a child if we don't need to."

At the beginning of the year, Schauer sent the permission slip to the school requesting that her child not receive corporal punishment, which is why she does not understand why her child was disciplined.

"According to the school, they lost the paper work that said I did not want the school to administer punishment," Schauer said. "In my opinion, they hit my child when they were mad at him, now my child is going to think that it is okay to hit others when he is mad."

Now, Schauer wants to air her concerns at the Cleveland ISD school board, but the district personnel told her that she would not be able to do so.

[...]

Houston Community Newspapers Online 2005




Corpun file 17056

masthead
New York Post, 29 November 2005

Wrist slap in 'Spank'

By Jim Hinch

A smack-happy Staten Island basketball coach got slapped with six years' probation yesterday for forcing his teenage players to drop their drawers so he could spank them.

Drew Sanders, 49, will also have to register as a Level 3 sex offender — the state's most severe classification — meaning authorities believe Sanders is highly likely to reoffend.

He is barred from entering day-care centers or schools with students younger than 18.

Sanders, who sometimes spanked boys when they missed free throws, "deceived everyone involved in the entire community," said a victim's mother in an impassioned plea to Judge Alan Meyer for the sex-offender designation.

Sanders asked Meyer to go easy on him, according to a parent who attended the hearing.

But the judge turned him down.

"I would like him to have had more punishment," said the parent. "But it was his first offense. I knew he wouldn't get life in prison."

Neither Sanders nor his attorney could be reached for comment.

Sanders coached in leagues and summer camps at Tottenville HS, Susan Wagner HS and the Staten Island Jewish Community Center.

Prosecutors said he abused boys at all three institutions.

Sanders was arrested in July when a 15-year-old boy complained that the coach had pulled down his pants and whipped him on the behind with a wooden paddle.

The boy said Sanders had spanked him repeatedly for months.

At first, the hulking coach pleaded not guilty. But then he was arrested again in September after a 16-year-old boy also came forward with spanking allegations.

He pleaded guilty a few days later to spanking three boys under a misdemeanor plea bargain that enabled him to avoid jail.

Some of the boys who came forward said Sanders would force them into bizarre free-throw contests.

For every free throw they missed, Sanders would smack their bottoms.

"They're going to pass his picture around to everyone in the entire ZIP code with the fact that he's a sex offender," said a parent. "It's affected the whole community."




Corpun file 17043

The People's Defender, West Union, Ohio, 30 November 2005

AC/OVSD holds annual corporal punishment meeting

An annual meeting on corporal punishment in the Adams County/Ohio Valley School District (AC/OV) was held on Nov. 28. The open public meeting was attended by board members, all the district principals, Superintendent Pat Kimble, several other staff members and several members of the community.

"The purpose of the meeting is to give the public a chance to have input on the use of corporal punishment policy," Kimble explained. "The purpose is not to change the policy."

The AC/OV Board of Education does permit the use of corporal punishment as a disciplinary measure, within certain confines:

• There must be a corporal punishment authorization form on file, signed by a parent or guardian, within the school building of attendance or corporal punishment will not be administered;

• The punishment shall be administered by striking the student across the buttocks with the palm of the hand or with a board paddle, and in no other manner;

• Corporal punishment shall be administered exclusively by the principal or assistant principal, and shall be witnessed by at least one other member of the certified staff;

• Students are to be given due process and the opportunity to fully explain the circumstances surrounding the incident in question;

• No administrator is to administer corporal punishment in an arbitrary manner or irresponsible manner;

• A record of the use of corporal punishment is to be kept by the building principal.

According to statistics provided at the meeting, corporal punishment is used most often in the elementaries. In the last three years, it was used on four students at Peebles High School and three at North Adams High School. During the same period of time, there were 120 elementary students district wide (excluding students in the Manchester attendance area) who were given corporal punishment.

The consensus of the principals was that they do not use corporal punishment unless it is requested by the parents. They also indicated that it is most effective with young elementary students.

According to board member Diane Lewis, the general practice in the district is to only use corporal punishment on the same student twice, however it is not a part of the policy. Lewis expressed that she is not in favor of corporal punishment in the schools.

The corporal punishment policy came about through public meetings, according to Kimble. Through an annual meeting, the district gauges input from the community.

Content 2005 People's Defender




Corpun file 17042

Kansas City Star, Missouri, 30 November 2005

Missouri among leaders in swats

School paddlings fewer, not gone

By Steve Rock
The Kansas City Star

(extracts)

DELTA, Mo. — As he sits in his office at Delta High School, wearing blue jeans and a Nike T-shirt, Nate Crowden reaches to his left.

Atop a filing cabinet is a paddle, not unlike the one used at this rural, southeast Missouri school when Crowden was a student here in the 1970s. These days, Crowden is the principal.

"We don't have any discipline problems here," said Crowden, holding the narrow wooden paddle. "And one of the reasons we don't is because we use this."

Corporal punishment is alive and well in Missouri.

According to data released this month by the U.S. Department of Education, Missouri ranks 10th nationally in annual paddlings at elementary and secondary schools. Missouri and Kansas are among 22 states that allow corporal punishment, but schools in Kansas deliver far fewer swats than Missouri.

According to the federal data — projections based on samplings from 6,000 districts and 60,000 schools, including 178 districts in Missouri and 122 in Kansas — Kansas used corporal punishment on 46 students during the 2002-03 academic year. Missouri used it on 6,875.

"I do not want Missouri to be in the top 10 in this area," said state Rep. Barbara Fraser, a St. Louis Democrat whose bill to abolish corporal punishment in Missouri has failed for several years. "The bottom line is that by using corporal punishment, we are saying to children that it's OK to hit someone."

In the Kansas City area, no districts contacted by The Kansas City Star use corporal punishment and most prohibit it. Only a handful of area school districts permit corporal punishment, and administrators in those districts say the policy is outdated and not used.

"We do not use it, period," said Jim Horton, superintendent of the Excelsior Springs School District. "I will look at that policy, and if we need to do some work on it, we will."

That's what the school board is doing in Liberty, where corporal punishment is permitted but not practiced. Superintendent Scott Taveau said the board is expected to ban corporal punishment at a December board meeting.

"Nothing good happens when spankings take place at school," Taveau said.

Opponents

According to the federal Education Department, about 1.4 million students were paddled in 1980. The numbers have plummeted since, dropping to 301,016 by the 2002-03 academic year.

[...]

The numbers are going down in Missouri, too, where there are 524 public school districts with about 900,000 students.

Count Chris Belcher among the opponents of corporal punishment.

One of the first things he noticed when he took over as Kearney School District superintendent in July was that board policy permitted corporal punishment. It wasn't being practiced, but he initiated efforts to wipe it off the books.

"The decision to inflict pain on an individual to cause a change in behavior is not suited for a school," Belcher said.

Another reason districts are reluctant to use the practice, school administrators said, is the fear of litigation.

"To get down to the nitty gritty of it, I think people are very cognizant of liability," said Sandra Sloan, Odessa School District superintendent.

Odessa board policy permits corporal punishment, but school administrators said they choose other disciplinary measures.

Many national organizations — such as the National Parent Teacher Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the National Association of School Psychologists and the American Medical Association — support abolition of corporal punishment in schools.

That's a change that Fraser would welcome. She said her research shows that rural districts are more likely to practice corporal punishment than those in metropolitan areas. According to the Center for Family Policy and Research at the University of Missouri, approximately two-thirds of the school districts statewide — housing about one-third of the state's public-school students — allow corporal punishment.

Fraser is worried that corporal punishment is used in a discriminatory manner. For example: The Department of Education study shows that, in Missouri in 2002-03, corporal punishment was used on 5,565 boys compared with 1,310 girls. Nationwide, like in Missouri, about 80 percent of the paddlings were delivered to boys.

In recent years, Fraser's bill to ban corporal punishment in Missouri public schools hasn't even gotten out of committee.

"I truly wish the law would change," she said. "I seriously doubt that it will."

Supporters

Tammy and Mike Bartels have one child who graduated from the Delta School District and two more in the pipeline.

Residents of nearby Whitewater, Mo. — which is about 20 miles west of Cape Girardeau — the Bartelses advocate corporal punishment and don't mind it being used on one of their children at school.

"If my child has been told to stop doing something and he continues to do it, I don't have a problem with them spanking him," Tammy Bartels said.

Advocates of corporal punishment say a swat is an effective disciplinary measure if used properly.

"With some kids it's effective, with some it's not," said Dave Davis, principal at Jasper Elementary in Jasper, Mo., about 130 miles south of Kansas City.

So far this year, Davis said, he's paddled only two students.

"You don't spank out of anger," he said. "You make the kid understand that what they did was wrong before you administer it, and then you talk to them again after you administer it."

Districts that allow corporal punishment typically have written policies for using it. A witness must be present; only the buttocks and not the head or face should be swatted; and there should be no chance of bodily injury.

Craig Burger, principal at Knob Noster Elementary School, said school officials in his district rarely administer swats. When they do, he said, they don't aggressively hit students with the paddle.

"You really don't want to hurt the child," he said.

But one southeast Missouri high school principal, who didn't want to be named, said the swats need to be "hard enough to get your point across" and should be "at least a little painful."

In a different southeast Missouri district, the parents of a student recently complained after their child was swatted twice on Nov. 11. The school board in the Scott City School District investigated the incident and ruled that the principal didn't violate school policy.

Diann Bradshaw-Ulmer, superintendent of the Scott City School District, said corporal punishment is used only rarely. That one incident notwithstanding, she said, corporal punishment "is what the community wants."

Crowden, the Delta High School principal, said it's simple embarrassment that makes paddling so effective. Sometimes, he'll walk to the classroom of an unruly student and swat him or her right there out in the hallway. The other students aren't watching, he said, "but they know what's going on."

And then there are students who ask to be paddled, who would rather take a few swats on the rump than an in-school suspension.

"Ninety percent of the kids in this building will say, 'Give me the swats, and it won't happen again,'" Crowden said.

"This works here. We're going to stick with what works."

[...]




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