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School CP - October 1988

Corpun file 4419


The Oklahoman, Oklahoma City, 7 October 1988

Choctaw Bans Spankings in Schools

By Chris Brawley

Going against the wishes of teachers and principals, the Choctaw-Nicoma Park school board this week banned corporal punishment.

According to research by a group called Oklahomans Opposed to Corporal Punishment, this is the first school district in Oklahoma to do away with spanking, said spokeswoman Fran Morris.

The state Department of Education does not keep track of such data as Oklahoma law allows educators to "spank, switch or paddle a child," said Ed Huey, associate superintendent.

By a 4-1 vote on Monday night, the Choctaw-Nicoma Park board decided spanking would no longer be used as a disciplinary tool, said board president Ray Cornelison.

Since school started in August, 50 students had been spanked with a wooden paddle, said Dale Stearns, Choctaw-Nicoma Park superintendent.

On Tuesday, corporal punishment was no longer permitted in the 4,700-student district.

"I'm proud of our district for doing it," Cornelison said.

Educators and parents in the community apparently have a different opinion.

"Teachers are unhappy about it. The principals have been in a state of shock," Stearns said.

Stearns and assistant superintendent Tom Williamson spoke at the Monday meeting, arguing that corporal punishment is effective, said board member Clifford Kilpatrick.

A September poll, conducted by the teachers' bargaining agent, found that most of the district's 290 teachers favor retaining corporal punishment, Stearns said.

Stearns said he also thinks the board's action will be unpopular with parents. Banning spanking eliminates one step in the discipline process, he said. The most extreme form of discipline is expulsion from school, he said.

"We have parents who are more upset if their child misses recess for discipline than if he is spanked," Stearns said.

The previous policy allowed parents to file a letter if they did not want their child to be spanked. About 10 parents wrote such letters every year, Stearns said.

Kilpatrick, the lone dissenting board member, said he voted "no" to support the teachers' position and because he believes corporal punishment works.

"My personal feeling is it may very well be a useful tool," Kilpatrick said.

Cornelison said he believes spanking is ineffective.

Studies show discipline to be a major problem in schools today. In most cases, corporal punishment is being used. "Obviously, corporal punishment doesn't work," Cornelison said.

"From a physical standpoint, I don't think we should hit children," said Cornelison, a medical doctor.

"It can send a message to a child: When all else fails, hitting is OK. And I don't think we ought to be sending that message," he said.

Kilpatrick said corporal punishment will be reconsidered during the November board meeting.

Corpun file 22783


Orlando Sentinel, Florida, 21 October 1988

Parents, Principal Agree To Paddling Rules

By Mildred A. Williams
of The Sentinel Staff

After nearly three hours of sometimes angry discussion, a group of parents reached an agreement Thursday with Howard Middle School officials on the use of paddling to discipline students.

Parents also were assured there would not be a repeat of an incident earlier this month in which a dozen Howard sixth-graders were paddled in a hallway for being late to class.

No Howard or Orange County school policies that allow paddling will be changed. But all parents will be told of Howard's corporal punishment procedure, as well as their ability to object to it, parents and officials agreed.

Principal Glennis Terry told parents he regretted that the paddling had caused such angry feelings.

"It saddens me as a principal because I have all your children in my school," he said. "I'm very sad that we could not sit down on a one-to-one basis and work this out."

Several parents said they also may work to change state laws that allow principals to decide if they want to paddle students and give principals the authority not to abide by parents' objections to paddling.

"Corporal punishment is not a good deterrent," said Lance Calbert, the father of a Howard sixth-grader. Calbert said he does not paddle his child at home. "I think we're more or less civilized enough today that we can find a better way of dealing with things."

Meanwhile, an investigation of the Oct. 7 paddling by dean Reginald Forbes in the Howard hallway will continue, as will the investigation of reports that Howard assistant principal Frances Cuddy punched a student in the stomach three days earlier. Cuddy has denied hitting the student. Forbes could not be reached, and district officials have told the administrators not to talk about the incidents.

Both investigations should be completed in about a week, and parents will be notified of the results, district officials said.

About 20 parents met Thursday in Howard's library with Terry, members of the PTA, school board attorneys and administrators. They discussed their concerns about harsh disciplinary procedures, which have left the Orlando school abuzz with reports that students were fearful of being paddled for minor infractions.

The meeting was called in hopes of settling the issue before it escalated into a court battle. But for a while, the group argued back and forth about the way the paddling had been handled.

On one side were members of the PTA, who accused the other parents of overreacting to the paddling by alerting the media.

Copyright 2010 Orlando Sentinel

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