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The Bakersfield Californian, 15 March 1962
Punishment by Teacher Questioned
Californian News Service
FELLOWS -- The Midway School Board will meet in private session Friday at 7:30 p.m. in the music room with physical education teacher Earl Kesner and parents who have charged Kesner with administering cruel punishment.
Mrs. Betty Ciaramitaro and Mrs. Lola Tufte made their complaints Thursday night at the board's regular meeting.
Kesner is accused of subjecting some fifth and sixth grade boys to paddle lines, "dog piling", and wet towel whippings as forms of punishment.
For the paddle line the two mothers said the child strips to gym short and crawls on hands and knees through the legs of a line of children. Each child in the line whacks the victim on the bottom as he passes through.
The towel ordeal (described in complaints) consists of the boy standing nude within a circle of naked children who snap him with wet towels.
Both Mrs. Ciaramitaro and Mrs. Tufte said that their sons, Joseph Michele and Michael, had come home hurt and exhausted from the punishment.
Mrs. Ciaramitaro's son, Joseph Michele, is afflicted with Legg-Perthe disease (deterioration of the bone) she said, and that if corporal punishment is necessary, he should be paddled on the hands only.
Kesner is aware of Joseph Michele's condition, Mrs. Ciaramitaro said, because at the beginning of the school year when [sic] she showed him a letter from the boy's doctor.
Board clerk John Tooker suggested the boy be withdrawn from all physical activities if he is "in poor condition".
Mrs. Ciaramitaro replied that the doctor said her son could participate in normal activity.
"And I don't object to normal punishment either," she said, "one teacher administering a spanking yes, but not two classes of children."
Vice principal Fletcher Cline said, "There are not 24 children in those (punishment) lines; there are only 10 -- and it is more like fun; the children like to participate."
Board member Malcolm Johnson was asked by Roy Anderson from the audience, "Mr. Johnson, do you condone such practices?
Johnson: "I don't know that it's true." Then Mrs. Tufte asked Johnson how he would feel if such a thing happened to his son.
"I don't have a son," Johnson replied, "I have a girl."
"Well, how would you feel if it happened to your child?" Mrs. Ciaramitaro asked.
Johnson: "I have a daughter. They don't put girls through things like that."
Anderson asked board member Jesse Joe Moore how he felt about such practice for punishment, and Moore said that, he was "absolutely against it. He moved that the board go on record as being against it -- that it cease, and that only proper spankings be administered by the teacher.
Anderson: "Mr. Moore, do you believe that these things have been going on?"
Moore: "Yes, I do believe it, it has happened to my own son."
Robert Mickelson, and 8th grade teacher at Midway, stood from the audience and objected to the affair being aired in public, "for the whole country to know."
Moore reminded him that school board meetings are public, and that people have the right to know what is transpiring.
Tooker said that making an open issue of the complaint could result in "evil consequences. It could demean the child."
One of the mothers said that she would rather her child be called a sissy than for him to be injured.
"To take discipline privileges away from a teacher would leave him hamstrung," Tooker said. He said that he had known about the complaints for a week, but had been too busy to look into the matter.
Because an executive session would have to be advertised, the group concerned agreed to meet in private at the school Friday night at 7:30.
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