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School CP - November 1984

Corpun file 4436


The Oklahoman, 21 November 1984

Schools' Discipline To Retain Spanking

By Pat Gilliland

Corporal punishment will stay in the disciplinary code for Moore schools despite questions raised by parents of a student who came home with bruises after he was paddled, Superintendent Jerry Rippetoe said.

"I feel that our policy the way it is written is a very good policy," Rippetoe said. "We're not anticipating any changes."

W.R. Johnson, the paddled 10-year-old's father, said he disagrees with the decision.

"I feel there's got to be another way other than expelling a child out of school or beating him to get him to learn something," Johnson said during a recent school board meeting as he passed around photographs of his son's bruised bottom.

"It was quite obvious that he was bruised badly," Johnson said.

Linda Haworth, the child's mother and Johnson's ex-wife, filed a child abuse complaint against Tim Norman, a Houchin Elementary physical education teacher. She said she gave the teacher permission Sept. 13 to spank her child, "not beat him," for "Michael Jackson dancing" after he was told to stop.

A school official said the spanking was for "cumulative" disobedience of the child, and not for break-dancing.

"The mother agreed to the paddling. That should tell you something," said the official, who asked not to be named.

The alternative to "swats" was a three-day suspension.

The district attorney declined to file charges. After investigating the matter for four weeks, Rippetoe allowed Norman to return to Houchin. By mutual agreement, he was excused from administering corporal punishment in the future.

The child and his younger sister now live with their grandparents in Del City and are enrolled in the Midwest City-Del City school district, Mrs. Haworth said.

"We never got anything. Not an apology, an "I'm sorry' . . . I just wanted to be sure everybody up here was aware of the situation and what had transpired," Johnson told board members.

Johnson said his current wife's efforts to get enough signatures to request a Cleveland County grand jury investigate corporal punishment in Moore schools have been "going slow."

Meanwhile, Jackie Humbolt, another Houchin patron, praised Rippetoe's decision to allow the teacher to return to Houchin.

"We feel that our district has an excellent discipline program. We fully agree with the procedures for discipline listed in the Moore Elementary Handbook," she said, saying she was speaking on behalf of "concerned parents" of the district.

"We hope our teachers will not hesitate in the future to report any possible abuse to the proper authorities. This will help protect them in the future of being accused of abusing a child after corporal punishment has been administered," Mrs. Humbolt said.

Rippetoe said school officials must have the right to determine what punishment will be administered while the child is at school.

"Corporal punishment is just one alternative that we use," Rippetoe said.

Parents who object to corporal punishment can notify the school each year for consideration, in which case other punitive measures would be taken, according to Moore school regulations and policies.

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