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School CP - March 2018

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Lexington Herald-Leader, Kentucky, 2 March 2018


These Kentucky schools still spank kids who misbehave. Is it time for that to end?

By Valarie Honeycutt Spears

Map of Kentucky

Legislation has been introduced in the General Assembly that would end corporal punishment in schools in Kentucky, a state where students were paddled or spanked 334 times in 2016-17, down from 517 the year before.

With 17 school districts presently using the practice under the current law, legislators have in years past told the Herald-Leader they don't have much interest in banning the practice statewide. Nor does Yvonne Gilliam, the Superintendent of Bell County Public Schools, want to lose it as a disciplinary option. There were 100 incidents of corporal punishment reported in that district in 2016-17.

But state Rep. Steve Riley, R-Glasgow, thinks it's time for the practice to stop.

"I'm not sure it's an effective punishment anymore," said Riley. "There can be some debate about whether it once was. There are so many other things the school can do that allow for learning but yet still get the attention of students."

"For teachers and administrators, I really don't know why you would want to take the risk of doing that," Riley said. "Not only as a teacher do I not think it would be helpful, but also you are putting yourself in a legal situation whereby I think it could be detrimental to you and your profession and your school system."

House Bill 375, co-sponsored by House Education Committee Chairman state Rep. John Carney, R-Campbellsville , says that school administrators, teachers or other certified personnel, office staff, instructional assistants, and coaches and extracurricular sponsors who are employed by a school district shall not use corporal physical discipline, including the use of spanking, shaking, or paddling, as a means of punishment, discipline, behavior modification, or for any other reason.

In Kentucky, the decision to use corporal punishment is made at the district level. It is not used in Fayette County, but several school districts see it as an option to maintain order.

Seven districts used it less than 10 times, and 3 districts used it more than 35 times in 2016-17, according to data from Kentucky Youth Advocates.

"We do find it very effective in establishing a safe learning environment for all of our students. We need to insure that all students are safe," Gilliam, the Bell Superintendent said. "That is a disciplinary tool that some of our principals use. We allow principals to use discretion if they think it's appropriate. We don't mandate corporal punishment."

Schools have to obtain parental permission first, and try to give students in all instances an alternative, Gilliam said. That could include an in-school or out-of-school suspension.

In Bell County, the person administering corporal punishment has to be the same gender of the student receiving the punishment, and a certified staff member must witness the incident.

"We have very safe schools. I would like to maintain the ability to use every tool possible to maintain a safe learning environment for our students," said Gilliam.

Gilliam said she thought that the incidents of corporal punishment in Bell County had declined in 2017-18 as they did the year before, although exact new numbers were not immediately available.

"It's used on a very limited basis," she said.

Pulaski County Schools, where officials didn't immediately respond to a request for comment, reported the second-highest number of corporal punishment incidents at 53, and Pike County Schools at 36 in 2016-17.

The 2016-17 Safe Schools Annual Statistical Report shows that in-school removal was the most frequently reported discipline resolution for all three school years since 2014-15 in Kentucky. For the 2016-17 school year, 78.2 percent of behavior events resulted in an in-school removal from the student's regular instructional setting; 21.6 percent of behavior events resulted in an out-of-school suspension; and less than 1 percent of behavior events resulted in an expulsion or corporal punishment. The use of corporal punishment has declined since the 2014-15 school year.

In school year 2016-17, there were 334 instances of corporal punishment reported, compared to 517 for school year 2015-16 and 574 for school year 2014-15.

As of 2016-17, only 17 of Kentucky's 173 public school districts reported use of corporal punishment, which is down from 25 in school year 2015-16.

Mostly white males receive corporal punishment in Kentucky, according to the statistics. Thirty-seven of the incidents in 2016-17 involved females. Six of the 334 incidents statewide involved black students.

Terry Brooks, executive director of Kentucky Youth Advocates, has supported a ban on corporal punishment in Kentucky schools for years.

"There are few ideas that are bad from every angle but corporal punishment fits that bill," said Brooks. "First, it is neither effective as a behavioral management technique nor as a school safety measure. You have to wonder whether those who still use this method are taking a lazy way out or simply don't know better. As an educator of three decades; as a grandpa of public school students; and, as an advocate for kids, there is not an issue more vital than school discipline and corporal punishment actually is counterproductive to encouraging positive student behavior and overall campus safety."

Kentucky Education Commissioner Stephen Pruitt, in general, "does not support corporal punishment as an effective discipline method in schools. He is still in the process of reviewing the specifics of HB 375," said Kentucky Department of Education spokeswoman Nancy Rodriguez.

Corpun file 26670 at

Pine Bluff Commercial, Arkansas, 13 March 2018

Watson Chapel School Board votes to arm guard



Due to a recent phone threat, The Watson Chapel School Board voted unanimously at a board meeting Monday night to allow Watson Chapel School District Security Guard Willie Edwards to carry a firearm while on duty.


In other news, the board voted unanimously for the expulsion of a Watson Chapel Junior High School student. The student will be expelled for the remainder of the 2017-2018 school year for allegedly possessing a BB gun with an attached red beam laser. No one was present on behalf of the student.

During the board meeting, Dovie Burl, school culture and climate specialist, announced that the Department of Justice will be visiting the Watson Chapel School District March 14-15 for their annual review of the agreed Consent Decree which was put in place December 2016.

Due to a 1970 civil rights lawsuit for disproportionality and unfair treatment of blacks and minority students in the district, the Department of Justice mandated a change in how students are to be disciplined.

Based on discipline data, the Department of Justice made a visit in November 2015 to WCSD to discuss the number of disciplines of blacks and minority students, including Special Ed students compared to other students.

At that time, corporal punishment was taken out of the district as a means of punitive punishment. A consent decree was established with mandates for the district to implement changes. Those changes include implementing PBIS (Positive Behavioral Intervention and Supports), as well as Restorative Justice Practices, and building stronger relationships with students through RTI (Response to Intervention).

"This year's district-wide behavior expectation will focus on ROAR (Respectful, Organized, Attentive, and Responsible)," Burl said. "The Roll-out for PBIS began in August 2017, and we are anticipating a good report from the DOJ with all of the initiatives that have been put in place."

© GateHouse Media Publications

Corpun file 26675 at

Fox News logo (WBRC FOX6 News), Birmingham, Alabama, 16 March 2018

Attorneys: Judge should drop Attalla administrator's felony child abuse charges

By Dixon Hayes, Reporter

ATTALLA, AL (WBRC) -- An Etowah County judge will decide in a couple of weeks whether to drop felony child abuse charges against an Attalla school administrator.

Vice Principal Nathan Ayers is free on bond on that charge, and still acting in his capacity at Etowah Middle School. He was charged in December 2016 after a paddling left severe bruising on a student.

Circuit Judge William Ogletree held a day long hearing on defense attorneys' motion to drop that charge based on a state law saying school administrators have "absolute immunity" in situations in which the school board's policies were followed correctly.

Attorneys called the school's principal, Jeffrey Johnson, to the stand to testify about the paddling, which he saw.

Johnson said the student was being punished for making an obscene gesture to another student as school let out the day before. He said he gave the student a choice between detention and a paddling, and he chose the paddling.

Johnson said he told the student to lean over the principal's desk and place his hands on the desk. After taking the first lick, he says the student said, "Ooh! Shot!"

The student explained he had gotten a shot in the left side of his behind shortly before -- and lifted his shorts to show the shot. The principal then gave him the option of a second lick or half detention, and he says the student say he'd take the second lick. Ayers administered both.

Johnson says there were efforts to contact the student's mother and the student acknowledged seeing those attempts. He says surveillance video in the school shows the student walking back to class without rubbing his behind, grimacing or showing any other amount of pain.

The criminal investigation, he says, began the following week when the student's mother confronted Ayers at the school with pictures of the student's hindquarters.

Dr. Melissa Peters, a Children's Hospital doctor whose specialties include child abuse injuries, testified that the police photos of the injuries showed deep, severe bruising that she characterized as blood coming up from deep to the surface of the skin. She testified she was surprised to hear the child had only been struck by the paddle twice.

Under cross examination, she admitted she also would have been surprised to hear he rode his bicycle for a couple of hours sometime shortly after the incident but said it would not have changed her determination that the student was a victim of child abuse.

In closing arguments, Jim Turnbach, a school board attorney who is part of the defense team, argued Ayers had "absolute immunity" since the student handbook explains in detail the procedure for administering corporal punishment and Ayers followed it correctly. Prosecutor Carol Griffith argued the jury should determine whether Ayers crossed a line.

Ogletree says he will make his ruling after further filings from both sets of attorneys.

Copyright 2018 WBRC. All rights reserved.

Corpun file 26667 at

The Alexander City Outlook, Alabama, 28 March 2018

Teacher cleared in corporal punishment suit

By Mitch Sneed

A jury found in favor of a teacher who padded a student at Reeltown with a paddle similar to the one shown in this photo illustration back in 2016. The boy received deep bruises after receiving two licks for walking down a hallway that he had been told not to use.

A Tallapoosa County jury in Dadeville found a student, who was a 14-year-old freshman at the time, who was bruised after being paddled by a teacher at Reeltown High School in 2016 was not entitled to any damages.

The jury delivered a verdict in favor of Reeltown Agricultural Science teacher Clint Burgess who was sued in 2016 after paddling a student in October of that year. The complaint alleged that the minor male student, who is now 16, whose injuries consisted of bruising on his buttocks as a result of the paddling.

"Obviously (Burgess) is relieved by the jury's verdict," said Attorney Mark Allen Treadwell, who represented Burgess in the suit. "While it's unfortunate that the student was bruised, there was no evidence of severe injuries, intent to do harm, or any monetary, physical or emotional damages."

The jury saw multiple photos of the bruising caused as a result of the paddling after being placed into evidence by the student's attorney James R. "Bobby" Bowles. The images, which were taken by the child's mother the night after the paddling, showed deep purple and red bruising that covered a majority of the young man's buttocks.

The student testified and said that he did go down a hallway that he had been told not to use. He testified, often biting his nails out of nervousness, that he liked Burgess, was still in his class and wasn't afraid of him.

"Other than going to the nurse to be checked out a few days after you got the two licks, did you have any major problems?" Treadwell asked.

"No sir," the boy said.

"So the nurse that you saw, did she give you a shot, any medication, apply cold compresses?" Treadwell asked the boy.

"No sir," he said.

"So you got two licks for doing something that you weren't supposed to be doing and that was about it, right?" Treadwell asked.

"Yes sir," the student answered.

Tallapoosa County Schools do have a policy in place where corporal punishment including paddling can be used. The use is permitted on several conditions, including how it should be witnessed, what kind of offenses can be punished with paddling, how the incident must be reported and that it not cause bodily injury.

Parents can request that their children not be disciplined with corporal punishment. In this case, the mother of the boy testified hadn't done that, but did sign a document stating that her children were not to be paddled the day after the incident.

Bowles used testimony to show that in this case, those schoolboard's procedures were not strictly followed.

Burgess said he didn't intend to do bodily harm, and said when he saw pictures of the deep bruises that he still didn't think he had injured the boy.

Burgess did admit the written procedures outlined by the school board were not completely followed and that he had been disciplined by Reeltown Principal Tom Cochran.

Burgess admitted that no report was made documenting the use of corporal punishment. The administration was not notified that the student had been paddled. The student's parent was not notified by Burgess. All those things appeared to be out of step with the school system's policy.

What was his punishment for failing to follow policy?

"I am no longer allowed to administer corporal punishment," Burgess said.

Burgess, who still has the boy in his class, said he has no regrets about the incident.

Cochran testified that he didn't get a report of the incident from Burgess or fellow teacher Mona Coan who had witnessed the paddling. He also said he didn't do a report to keep on file. All of those appear to be required in the board's policy.

After answering questions about the handling of the incident, Bowles asked Cochran to look at the pictures that depicted the boy's bruised buttocks after the paddling and tell the jury if he thought those were injuries.

"I would admit it was bruised," Cochran said."In a perfect world you wouldn't want that to occur anywhere."

School Resources Officer Jason Cowart also testified that he had investigated the incident which was reported as child abuse. Cowart said even though he was unable to retrieve video of the paddling because cameras were down, he did present his findings after interviewing all involved to a grand jury. The group did not return an indictment in the case.

© 2018, The Alexander City Outlook

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