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School CP - November 2016

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The Birmingham News, Alabama, 14 November 2016

Alabama 8th-grader paddled for writing 'Trump' on blackboard, parents say

By Carol Robinson
The Birmingham News

Trump; Childersburg school crest

The father of an eighth-grade Childersburg boy said his son was paddled at school for writing "Trump" on the blackboard, and he's livid.

"I don't think you ought to be punished for writing the president's name," Troy Stephenson told "Yeah, I'm pretty mad."

The incident happened Thursday at Childersburg Middle School. This is what was written on the Talladega County Schools Discipline Referral Form sent home with the student: "Students were told on yesterday because of the sensitivity of the matter, not to discuss the election unless it was in history class. They were told any discussion would result in an office referral. (The student) decided to write "Trump" on my board this morning, disregarding others that were in the classroom. This resulted in some upset students. I informed the student that the name (it could have been the other candidate) wasn't the issue. But it was the nature of everything behind it."

The disciplinary form reflected the following actions: conference with pupil, phone call to parents, and corporal punishment. Efforts to reach Childersburg Middle School officials for comment Friday and Monday were unsuccessful.

Griff Hill, the coordinator for secondary programs for Talladega County Schools, said he couldn't comment specifically on disciplinary action against any student, but said, "I can say with 100 percent accuracy, no student would ever be disciplined based on their political beliefs. There would never be a situation in our school system where the students would be disciplined because of their support of a political candidate."

Last week, Tuscaloosa City Schools received a number of complaints after a high school math teacher projected an image of Donald Trump firing President Barack Obama in his classroom on Wednesday.

In Childersburg, Stephenson said the school called him and told him what happened. They then asked him if he'd rather his 14-year-old get paddled, or spend the day in in-school suspension. "I said I didn't think they should be punished at all," Stephenson said. "They said it caused a disruption."

He told the school his wife was on her way, but if they couldn't wait for her to arrive, they should let his son make the decision. "I told them 'I don't want you to do anything," he said.

By the time his wife arrived, the young teen had already been paddled by Assistant Principal Chad Bynum, Stephenson said. Alabama is one of just 15 states with a state law that explicitly allows for corporal punishment. Another 29 states specifically ban the practice.

For two weeks leading up to the Nov. 8 election, Stephenson said, the students had been given homework assignments to watch election coverage and study the process. It's only natural, he said, that the students would continue those discussions after the election results came in. "You piqued their interest, and then when the candidate you wanted to win didn't win, you want it hush-hush," he said. "That's what it looks like to me."

Stephenson said he spoke with a school official Monday morning who told him his son was paddled not because he wrote "Trump" on the board, but because he wrote anything on the board at all.

Stephenson has contacted a lawyer, and they are deciding what to do next. In the meantime, he said, he has instructed his son to avoid all political discussions at school.

"Basically what they've done is give them a gag order. That's against the First Amendment, and I just don't understand," he said. "It just seems drastic to me."

Stephenson's attorney, Scott Morro, said Bynum and the Talladega County School Board are sending the wrong message. "The Presidential Election had been discussed for months in class. The election results and their ramifications should have been discussed as well. What a perfect time to teach," Morro said.

"Instead, the students were banned from discussing it. The student shouldn't ignore rules or instruction but those same rules and instruction shouldn't stifle free speech," he said. "They have equated writing Trump on a blackboard to yelling fire in a crowded theatre. Corporal punishment, without the parents' permission in this case, is unreasonable. We are still gathering evidence and will determine what action to take in the future. The family hopes that by bringing this incident to the forefront that the Talladega School Board will think before they act."

© 2017 Alabama Media Group. All rights reserved

Corpun file 26519 at

The News Courier, Athens, Alabama, 25 November 2016

Corporal punishment: Superintendents support continued use of paddling

By Rebecca Croomes



Punishing children is a complex subject and the nation's top education official is putting in his opinion.

Education Secretary John B. King Jr. on Tuesday sent a letter to the nation's governors and school officials, asking them to revoke policies related to corporal punishment. Paddling children, King said, would be considered "criminal assault or battery" against an adult.


Local superintendents told The News Courier they respect King's request, but have a different opinion.

"I understand his perspective," said Limestone County Schools Superintendent Tom Sisk, but said with a new education secretary expected after President-elect Donald Trump's inauguration, he would wait to see what King's successor has to say on the matter.

Limestone is currently revamping its corporal punishment policy. It's not a major overhaul, Sisk said, just changing a sentence or two to clarify the school system's responsibilities, such as having a witness of the same gender, who is not a student, present during the punishment. Even with the policy, the superintendent advises principals to use paddling sparingly.

Sisk said he would leave the fate of corporal punishment to the state Legislature, but while it's still on the books, Limestone will not change its policy. There are important things to note, though, the superintendent added.

"(Paddling) should always be the last course of action, not the first course of action," he said. "It should never be done in malice or in anger. I think it's important to point out we do give parents the option to opt out (of corporal punishment)."

In Athens, Superintendent Trey Holladay said Athens City Schools' policy on corporal punishment fits into the district's mission statement of upholding traditional values.

"As an advocate of parents being a part of the school and their students education, I believe that it is a parent's right to choose whether they want this option for their child," Holladay wrote in a statement to The News Courier. "If they do not, then we would honor their request. However, if they wish their child to be paddled instead of in-school suspension or out-of-school suspension, then I am an advocate of the parents' participation in the process of educating the whole child. I am a strong proponent of local control/decisions and believe that oversight is only needed or necessary when violating established laws."

Athens has similar restrictions to how corporal punishment is employed. According to school board policy, a student may only receive three "licks" with a paddle to the buttocks and must be in the presence of an adult witness. This punishment is only to be used after all other corrective actions have failed and teachers and school officials can prove paddling is warranted.

Both superintendents said corporal punishment is not employed often. Sisk said that in his five years with Limestone County Schools, only two families have challenged the use of corporal punishment on their child. Holladay said he believes the citizens of Athens support the occasional use of corporal punishment.

© Copyright 2017, 410 W Green Street Athens, AL

Corpun file 26505 at

Johnson City Press, Tennessee, 27 November 2016

Corporal punishment

Johnson City Schools, Sullivan County districts only area systems to disallow corporal punishment of students

By Tony Casey


Map of U.S. States
From the Social Policy Report, as put out by the Society for Research in Child Development, this map shows the level of legality [sic] of corporal punishment across the U.S.

Proverbs 13:24 says, in essence, "spare the rod, spoil the child."

But evidence suggests that it's time to make a switch.

The American Academy of Pediatrics -- an organization of 66,000 pediatricians committed to the optimal physical, mental and social health and well-being for all infants, children, adolescents and young adults -- says using that rod, or any practice of corporal punishment, not only has limited effectiveness, but mostly likely has deleterious side effects.

Citing the AAP's research and work, U.S. Education Secretary John King has been urging school administrators to drop policies that allow corporal punishment.


This isn't a nationwide phenomenon in regard to the schools where it's happening, but it's a policy that's being used, most frequently, in school districts that sit in the Bible belt. At the time of the AAP's article on this, they said that more than 90 percent of families in the U.S. have used corporal punishment as a way to discipline children.


Locally, Johnson City Schools and the Sullivan County School System disallow the practice, with Carter, Johnson, Greene, Unicoi and Washington counties allowing paddling to be implemented by principals, assistant principals and teachers.

Each county that allows corporal punishment generally follows the same guidelines, in that most of the time, the students' parents are the ones who give the school permission to administer the punishment. Corporal punishment is a resort taken after other disciplinary measures have been used. There's always a witness to the paddling, but never a student's peers.

The instrument used to administer the corporal punishment has to be approved by school's principal and it has to be properly documented.


According to Civil Rights Data collected in 2013, and posted on, for the area counties that have corporal punishment, there are several hundred instances of this kind of discipline.

Washington County Schools, with more than 9,100 students enrolled, had 105 cases of corporal punishment. Greene County had 159 cases of corporal punishment for 7,275 enrolled students. Carter County's district had 5,572 students, with 68 cases of corporal punishment recorded. The Unicoi County School System had 2,637 students and 47 instances of corporal punishment reported. Johnson County, with 2,171 enrolled students, had 28 cases of corporal punishment.

Dr. Susan Kiernan, Washington County Schools assistant director of public relations, said corporal punishment does occur, but is a rare occasion.

James Murphy, the system's assistant director, said some parents will ask for a paddling rather than having their child suspended. If a student is suspended, Murphy suspects, for a working family, that could mean a parent might have to miss a day of work and it's more convenient for a paddling.

Even though it happens under his watch, Murphy isn't sure he supports the practice.

"If I were a principal, I wouldn't approve of any paddling," he said. "But there are people who believe you create a hearty population if parents use corporal punishment. I'm not saying I necessarily believe that."

If a federal law were to prohibit the practice, Murphy said it wouldn't greatly affect the way Washington County operates its schools.

Dr. Michelle Simcox, Johnson County's director of schools, grew up going to the county's schools, all while knowing that if she didn't behave, she could end up getting paddled by a school administrator.

She jokes that it never happened, but supports the practice all the same. That's why, as a parent, when the forms go around to allow principals to potentially carry out corporal punishment on students who are in need of discipline, she signs the forms for her kids.

"I, personally, feel like it's up to the parent," Simcox said. "And as a parent, I sign that my children could be paddled if the administration feels they should. That's my personal belief."

Corpun file 26501 at

Cleburne Times-Review, Texas, 30 November 2016

Education secretary asks to end corporal punishment

By Ashley Rose



To fulfill the mission of promoting the "positive development of our youth," the U.S. Secretary of Education John King Jr. is asking all governors and school officials to consider scrapping the practice of corporal punishment because it's not used equally among students in schools.

"The use of corporal punishment can hinder the creation of a positive school climate by focusing on punitive measures to address student misbehavior rather than positive behavioral interventions and supports," King said in a Nov. 22 letter. "Corporal punishment also teaches students that physical force is an acceptable means of solving problems, undermining efforts to promote nonviolent techniques for conflict resolution."

According to a Society for Research in Child Development report, there are 19 states -- including Texas -- that practice corporal punishment in school, and over 160,000 children in these states are subject to corporal punishment in schools each year.

Corporal punishment is defined as "the use of physical force with the intention of causing a child to experience pain so as to correct their misbehavior" where a teacher or an administrator typically administers punishment by using a large wooden board or "paddle" to strike the buttocks of a child, according to the SRCD report.

The Texas Education Code defines corporal punishment as "... the deliberate infliction of physical pain by hitting, paddling, spanking, slapping or any other physical force used as a means of discipline."

All Johnson County school districts except Cleburne ISD practice corporal punishment.

CISD Assistant Superintendent of Student Services Tammy Bright said the district hasn't participated in corporal punishment in a number of years.


According to Joshua, Godley and Alvarado ISD handbooks, the districts participate in corporal punishment with the parents' permission.

"With respect to standards of student conduct, a student or parent may choose from several discipline management techniques -- including corporal punishment -- as a behavior consequence option in accordance with GISD policy and the Student Code of Conduct," Godley ISD Superintendent Rich Dear said.

Rio Vista ISD Superintendent Tim Wright said they also participate in corporal punishment as long as the parent gives them permission.

"Sometimes it's effective with some kids and sometimes it has the complete opposite effect on them," Wright said.

As for King saying the practice isn't used equally among students, Wright said that's one of many opinions.

"Our kids are treated the same," Wright said. "They're all the same kids. We treat every one of our kids the same."

Grandview ISD Superintendent Joe Perrin said their parents indicate in writing at the beginning of the school year whether they allow it or not, and the parent is also contacted by the administrator before any corporal punishment is given.

"Students are given the choice between in-school suspension or corporal punishment," Perrin said. "Some parents choose the corporal punishment because it allows the student to return to the classroom and not miss any classroom instruction while others prefer to be removed from the formal classroom and receive instruction informally while attending in school suspension.

"There is not a preference from the administration side as to which discipline technique is used. The choice is totally up to the parents. Because it is only an option, there is no bias towards any race or disability."

Keene ISD Superintendent Ricky Stephens said the district still allows the use of corporal punishment, but it hasn't been used in a couple of years.

"Keene ISD makes decisions based on local beliefs and principles and strives to motivate and educate young men and women in the best way possible," Stephens said. "Rarely does Keene ISD take the advice of Washington politicians when deciding what's best for our kids."

According to the Burleson ISD Student Code of Conduct, corporal punishment may be used as a discipline management technique in accordance with policy, but can't be administered to a student whose parent has submitted a signed statement for the current school year prohibiting the use of corporal punishment for his/her child. The parent may reinstate permission to use the punishment at any time during the school year, however.


© Copyright 2016, 108 S. Anglin St. Cleburne, TX

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