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School CP - January 1989


The Dallas Morning News, Texas, 12 January 1989

Undercover officer paddled in school tardiness crackdown

By Joseph Garcia
Staff Writer of The Dallas Morning News

Paddling isn't a typical risk of undercover police work.

But the Dallas police officer posing for the last four months as a student at W.T. White High School got caught in a campus "tardy freeze", principal Gene Ward said Wednesday.

Faced with taking after-school detention -- and missing a drug buy -- or corporal punishment, the 25-year-old patrol officer -- whom authorities have not identified -- took a paddling from a White assistant principal.

"It's never happened before," said police narcotics Lt Robert Owens.

The drug buy was one of almost three dozen made by the undercover officer including purchases of marijuana, cocaine and LSD. Eleven of the 28 people sought by police as a result had been arrested by Wednesday afternoon, Owens said.

None of the drugs were sold at the North Dallas school, which was selected randomly as part of a continuing effort to patrol campuses for drugs, police said.

But six suspects are students and others are former students, officials said. Five of the arrest warrants are for juveniles.

Initially, two police officers were placed at White as transfer students when the school year began in September, Owens said. The officers trained during the summer after they were selected from a pool of 17 volunteers from the department.

The officers planned to circulate in different groups and avoid each other in order to reach more suspected dealers, but one month into the operation one of the officers had to be pulled out of the school, said Sgt David McCoy, who supervised the operation.

A student at the school recognized the officer from an off-duty job he had worked before and as a result his cover was blown with drug dealers, McCoy said.

"No one threatened him, but after what happened in Midlothian we weren't taking any chances," he said.

In October 1987 a 21-year-old officer working undercover in the Midlothian high school was fatally shot. Two students were sentenced to 45-year prison terms for his murder and a third was sentenced to 10 years for conspiracy to commit murder.

Authorities have said that undercover work in schools has become more dangerous as the tactic has become popular -- The Colony, Duncanville, Garland and Plano have had similar operations in the last two years.

The second officer, who used the name David Williams, stayed at White through the first semester, earning A's and B's, Ward said.

He was one of the guys you see in the hallways ... a pretty normal student," Ward said. "He did hang around with the undesirable element."

Ward said he did not know of the undercover officer's presence until late Tuesday afternoon when he was told by Dallas schools Superintendent Marvin Edwards.


Staff writer Todd Copilevitz contributed to this report.

Corpun file 5703


St. Petersburg Times, Florida, 26 January 1989

HRS Told To Take Principals Off Hit List

By Bob Port

TAMPA - - A judge ordered state officials Wednesday to remove the names of two Hillsborough County school principals from Florida's registry of child abusers, where they were listed for paddling students last year.

His decision marks the first time a judge in Florida has ruled in one of several challenges to a policy used by the Florida Department of Health and Rehabilitative Services (HRS) to decide when paddling becomes child abuse.

That policy -- sometimes called the "you bruise, you lose" rule -- says that anyone is guilty of child abuse if he or she spanks or paddles a child and leaves a bruise visible after 24 hours.

Hillsborough Circuit Judge Thomas A. Miller Sr. flatly rejected that policy. "Bruising is not by itself proof of excessive force in the administration of corporal punishment," the judge said in a signed order. The law requires more proof, he said.

In the two separate incidents Miller reviewed, a boy and a girl had bruises on their buttocks after several whacks from a 2-foot-long, 4-inch-wide wooden paddle. The boy, an elementary pupil with a history of truancy, had tried to run away. The girl, a high-school age student, had thrown a chair at a teacher.

Miller's ruling instructs HRS to expunge from its records any information that identifies the two principals as abusers. Such information wrongly "stigmatizes" the principals, he said.

For now, the ruling means a serious loss in court for HRS in a lawsuit brought by the Hillsborough County School Board on behalf of the principals: Martha F. Hood of Pinecrest Elementary School in Lithia and Paul E. Rich of LaVoy Exceptional School in Tampa.

"Of course, I'm glad to see it," Mrs. Hood said Wednesday night. "I work with kids and I love children and I certainly would not want to have something like this against my name."

Rich could not be reached for comment.

HRS officials said they will challenge Miller's ruling.

"We intend to pursue this in the courts," agency spokesman Steve Konicki said. "We feel that our position in this matter was correct and we intend to let the court system -- the system of justice in Florida -- decide this issue."

Konicki said HRS will first ask for a rehearing before Miller. If that fails, he said, "We are going to appeal."

The Hillsborough case is one of at least three challenges mounted by school officials to HRS listing teachers and administrators in Florida's child abuse registry. Although corporal punishment is legal in Florida, HRS labels school officials as child abusers whenever a child is left bruised -- even if the punishment is administered according to a local school board policy and is approved by the child's parents.

Florida law says that anyone listed as a confirmed abuser in the registry cannot work in a job that involves caring for a child or an adult with special needs unless the individual can persuade HRS or a hearing officer to make an exception. Although that law does not apply to teaching jobs, teachers fear HRS will try to change it to include teachers, lobbyists say.

"HRS has adopted a policy to do away, I think, with corporal punishment," said Crosby Few, Hillsborough School Board attorney. "If they want to eliminate corporal punishment, they should go to the Legislature to do it. HRS doesn't run the school system, the Legislature does."

Nevertheless, HRS officials continue to take a hard line interpreting the law, and the agency's medical expert in the Hillsborough case went even further. Dr. Jay M. Whitworth, associate professor of pediatrics at the University of Florida, testified in a pretrial statement that he believes any punishment causing a bruise is child abuse.

"If I were standing next to a child and a bus was coming along and I grabbed the child real hard and yanked the child back and I leave a bruise, would I be a child abuser?" School Board attorney Few asked.

"Yes," Whitworth said in a pretrial statement.

"Even though I saved the child's life?" Few asked.

"Based on the evaluation of the set of circumstances," the doctor said, "yes."

blob Related: 25 September 1989 - Schoolteacher contests abuse charge after spanking pupil

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