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School CP - October 2007
Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Texas, 3 October 2007
Coaches' playbooks shouldn't include paddling students
By Bud Kennedy
Something is wrong in Springtown.
First, a 12-year-old boy was paddled hard enough by a football coach to leave a bruise on one leg.
Then, school trustees refused to let the boy's father publicly discuss school discipline policy.
At first, I didn't pay much attention to a family's complaint about a Springtown Middle School football coach.
Austin Carpenter, 12, told KXAS/Channel 5 that the coach thought he was wearing another player's shorts and gave him one swat with a paddle on Sept. 7. Austin says he had on the right shorts. We don't know the coach's side.
For a minute, I thought -- no big deal. Under Texas law, any teacher can paddle unless the local district has a rule against it.
But some of the top football coaches in Texas say they don't do it anymore.
"I can't even think of a coach anywhere who still paddles," said Mesquite Skeeters coach Steve Halpin, president of the Texas High School Coaches Association.
"It's not part of discipline anymore," he said. "I've been the head coach here for 13 years, and I've never done it. I've never seen the need for it. And I've never felt the desire to do it."
The Everman schools were featured in The New York Times last year for bringing back paddling. A middle school principal talked about how it has restored order in the hallway.
But Dale Keeling, who has led the Everman Bulldogs to two state championships, said his staff doesn't give licks: "If there's a problem in school, it's handled in the assistant principal's office."
Like several Texas districts, Everman reserves corporal punishment for administrators, who use it carefully.
"We would never use it," Keeling said of his staff. "I grew up with it in West Texas, but the world has changed. I have never believed in it."
Grandview coach Aubrey Sims said he doesn't think any rural coaches still paddle.
"Man, I didn't know that still existed anywhere," he said. "I've never heard of any place where coaches could paddle a kid."
He thought for a second.
"You know," he said, "there are some kids I'd sure like to bust."
A similar paddling made national news three years ago in Groveton, in East Texas.
An elementary coach bruised a 10-year-old boy.
Superintendent Joe David Driskell said Groveton has not changed its policy. Paddling is allowed as long as another teacher observes.
"I think it can be abused, but I think it's a good deterrent," he said. "We've got good discipline in our schools, and folks like it that way."
Austin Carpenter's father, Brad, 39, is a welder. He's heard the talk-show criticism ever since the KXAS report.
"I've been hearing people on the radio and in Springtown," he said. "They try to justify a grown-up bruising a 12-year-old boy with a paddle. To me, there is no justification."
He said he didn't call reporters and hasn't called a lawyer. He just wants the Springtown policy changed to require a parent's consent before paddling.
That's what he says he wanted to tell the school board on Sept. 24.
Carpenter signed up days in advance, plenty of time for his topic to be listed on the agenda. Trustees can always discuss a policy -- although never an employee by name -- under Texas open meetings law.
Carpenter said specifically that he wanted to change the policy, not criticize the coach.
But Superintendent Lonnie Seipp said the father was discouraged from speaking because he also wanted to discuss his son's discipline and injuries, and administrators are still reviewing the case.
Springtown's athletic director has told Porcupines coaches to quit paddling, Seipp said.
"It's not a change in policy," Seipp said. "Our athletic director just doesn't want any coaches swatting kids. If somebody wants to talk about changing the policy, then come on down and let's talk about the policy."
This might be the time.
Muskogee Phoenix, Oklahoma, 13 October 2007
Some seek alternative to school corporal punishment
By Donna Hales
A new principal and an increase in corporal punishment at Braggs Public Schools has some parents and students discussing alternatives.
The Braggs Student Council is proposing a discipline policy that must meet administrative approval.
A parent of two students at Braggs Public Schools, Candy C. Wike, said she is upset about two swats her sixth-grade son received in September that she said resulted in extensive bruising.
Braggs Superintendent Harry L. Atkins said Friday he could not verify anything about bruising in the Wike case. The new school principal, L.D. Boatright, 61, had gone to a ballgame at another school and was not available for comment.
Boatright said earlier that corporal punishment brings great results. And while officials in several other area schools aren't convinced, Atkins is.
"I promise you, this has been one of the best school years I've had in the time I've been here," Atkins said. "We finally have some discipline."
Vince Wike said Boatright told him his son received swats because he didn't do his homework assignment for the second day in a row.
A student discipline report from Braggs Elementary School states Wike's son "had numerous chances to turn in theme paper and failed to do so."
Meanwhile, Vince Wike and Atkins have come to an agreement on punishment for Wike's son. It doesn't include swats, Wike said.
"We don't spank our children — and we don't want them to," Wike said.
He said Boatright told him he wasn't going to take the time to call the parents before swatting a student. Atkins was in agreement.
"This man is hitting other people's kids — not talking, just hitting," Vince Wike said.
At Braggs, parents are requested to fill out discipline information forms, Atkins said. The parents must sign whether the school may or may not use corporal punishment as a form of discipline, which appears to be a common practice.
"These (permission forms) have to be filled out every year at enrollment time," Wike said.
The only such forms a secretary at the school could find in the Wike file were for 2004 and Sept. 17 of this year, after the spanking incident.
The student council is discussing alternatives to spanking unless other discipline measures fail, school officials said.
Boatright said the student report should be submitted next week. He also said he and the superintendent will discuss the suggested policy and the next week submit their proposal to the board of education.
The Wikes' daughter, Breanna Wike, was a senior at Braggs, senior class president, student body president and editor of the school paper until Thursday, when she changed schools because of transportation problems.
She has done some research on the subject of corporal punishment since her brother's paddling.
"The student body is working real hard to come up with some better (discipline) rules," she said Friday.
Most of the students involved in proposing new rules don't like the fact parents aren't called before spankings are given, she said.
One thing the students wanted to see changed dealt with discipline rules on the school buses, she said. An example, minor infractions shouldn't result in getting kicked off the bus for nine weeks, she said.
"Parents go to work — that's why their children ride the bus," she said. "They (students guilty of a minor infraction of the rules) could be made to sit in the front seat with a monitor on their first offense."
The students are suggesting having to do custodial duty on the bus and other punishments, as well. They are proposing a third offense should be suspension from school for 9 weeks, Breanna Wike said.
She submitted a list to the Phoenix she had compiled of some of the Braggs students who told her of spankings received at school until about six weeks ago. It reflects one student was spanked 19 times during the first four weeks of school. She said his spankings were for different infractions at different times.
Boatright said the student may have told other students he got spanked 19 times, but it was more like four or five times.
The list reflects two second-graders were among those receiving swats.
Boatright confirmed that, saying the swats given second-graders were "mere taps."
"No one agreed with constantly swatting the kids," Breanna Wike said.
She said students are hoping that the bulk of their suggestions at least reach the board of education.
"The school board members are pretty much all understanding people — they will listen," she said. "And teachers — they are all like friends in that little school.
Breanna Wike said she'd never received a swat at school. And she never wants to.
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Muskogee Phoenix, Oklahoma, 13 October 2007
Spanking may not make the grade
By Donna Hales
Many area schools have halted corporal punishment while some schools use it as a means of discipline upon request of students or their parents.
Muskogee Public Schools put a moratorium on corporal punishment after a spanking incident last school year.
"I just question the validity in the use of a physical punishment on kids," said Muskogee Superintendent Mike Garde. "I think there are better strategies we can use to teach kids better behavior."
Garde said an incident at an elementary school last year in which a student was bruised triggered the decision to halt spanking. The parents of the bruised child had wanted the child to be swatted for a school infraction. But the child moved as the paddle hit him, causing the bruising, Garde said.
Parents of the injured student had requested corporal punishment instead of other discipline, Garde said.
A student at Tahlequah can get a swat only if the student requests it and the parent agrees, according to Tahlequah Vice Principal Gary Ferguson.
"Some students request it because they work after school or participate in basketball, football or another sport and don't want to miss practice," Ferguson said.
And even if the student requests the swats instead of after-school suspension, such a request is only allowed twice per school year, Ferguson said.
Garde said he has never believed a student should receive a spanking for academic reasons.
"Our responsibilities as educators is to teach kids how to behave," Garde said. "There needs to be a system in place that allows kids to make mistakes and learn from them."
Warner Public Schools hasn't dispensed corporal punishment for seven years — since Superintendent Monte Madewell took over the helm. Warner doesn't have a policy against using corporal punishment, he said.
"We just don't use it," Madewell said. "Our principal just doesn't think we should beat children, and I kind of agree with him, although sometimes we sure would like to reconsider," Madewell said, chuckling.
As far as swatting some students and not others, depending on parental wishes, puts children in an awkward situation, Madewell said. "That's an inconsistency," he said.
Biloxi Sun-Herald, Mississippi, 28 October 2007
Sparing the rod is the trend
By Melissa M. Scallan
More than half of the school districts in South Mississippi have policies allowing students to be paddled for bad behavior, but most educators here say the practice is used sparingly, if at all.
Of the 16 districts in the six southern counties, nine have policies allowing corporal punishment; seven districts forbid it.
The Gulfport School District, for example, allowed corporal punishment years ago, but the district formed a committee in the early 1990s to look at the policy, and members decided to ban the practice.
"There was just too much liability," said Glen East, who worked for the district then and now is superintendent. "The committee decided there were much better ways to discipline children. But every year we get a parent or two who wants to know why we don't paddle children."
During the 2004-05 school year, eight percent of students in Mississippi schools were paddled, the highest percentage in the nation, according to statistics from the Center for Effective Discipline, based in Ohio.
Mississippi is one of 21 states that allows corporal punishment; however, each district decides whether it wants to use that form of discipline.
Nadine Block, executive director for the Center for Effective Discipline, believes eventually the practice will be banned in all states.
"It comes down to public acceptance of the practice, and it's more accepted in the South," she said. "Whenever you bring up banning it, that's when people speak up loudly about it. Many superintendents just wish it would quietly go away."
Educators in the Harrison County School District are allowed to use corporal punishment, but there are rules. The principal must approve it and it can't be done in the classroom. Students are taken to the office and there must be a witness.
"You have people who don't want you to touch their child, and there are people who want you to (use corporal punishment)," Superintendent Henry Arledge said. "We really don't have many principals who will do corporal punishment because there is an attorney on every corner waiting to sue schools. My guess is that it's not used very often."
If a child attends a school that allows corporal punishment but parents don't want it used, they can give a letter to the school at the beginning of the year, and that child won't be paddled.
Block said research shows paddling students doesn't decrease school shootings or violence, but many people believe it does and that's why they favor the practice.
"We can't say corporal punishment is causing these problems, but it doesn't help them either," she said.
Most schools use time out, demerits, detention and both in-school and out-of-school suspensions. A student whose behavior becomes too problematic can be sent to the alternative school.
Robert Hirsch, superintendent in Ocean Springs, said individual students respond to different types of discipline, including corporal punishment.
"I personally don't object to it philosophically," he said. "But I'm very cautious about using corporal punishment. I don't think it should be used if the parents don't want it. It's not a magic form of punishment.
"I'm in favor of it being used sparingly," he added. "Across the country, it's gone that way because of liability and legal issues and the chance of abuse."
Corporal punishment by state
Mississippi leads the states that allow corporal punishment in the number of students hit. In the 2004-05 school year, 272,028 students across the country were paddled at school, but this is a drop of nearly 10 percent from the early 1980s. Following is a list of the top 10 states for number of students paddled during the 2004-05 school year:
- CENTER FOR EFFECTIVE DISCIPLINE
Nine of the 16 school districts in South Mississippi allow corporal punishment:
Allowed: Biloxi, George County, Harrison County, Jackson County, Long Beach, Ocean Springs, Pascagoula, Poplarville and Stone County.
Not allowed: Bay-Waveland, Gulfport, Hancock County, Moss Point, Pass Christian, Pearl River County and Picayune.
© 2007 Sun Herald. All Rights Reserved.
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