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School CP - March 1991

Corpun file 06992

Houston Chronicle, Texas, 6 March 1991

Measure against corporal punishment takes a licking

By Diana Williams
Houston Chronicle Austin Bureau

When state Sen. Rodney Ellis was in elementary school, administrators paddled him for cracking jokes with schoolmates and standing on chairs.

And on Tuesday, the Houston Democrat had his revenge - almost.

Ellis' bill to abolish corporal punishment in Texas public schools died in the Senate's Health and Human Services Committee on a 5-4 vote. In previous sessions, similar versions of the bill had been introduced by former state Sen. Craig Washington, who now serves in the U.S. House of Representatives.

During more than an hour of testimony, committee members heard both support and opposition to the bill.

Brad Duggan, executive director of the Texas Elementary Principals and Supervisors Association, said abolishing corporal punishment would not help improve discipline.

"The principals and teachers are frustrated more than ever in trying to maintain discipline with students," he said. "It is one of their highest concerns. If used properly, we believe it (corporal punishment ) is a better alternative than suspension of school services."

But James Mickelson, who represented the Mental Health Association of Houston and Harris County, testified that corporal punishment is detrimental to schoolchildren.

"We do not allow one adult to use it with another adult -- that's assault," he said. "Yet, two-thirds of all corporal punishment in Texas is administered to elementary children as young as 5 to 11 years old."

Mickelson, who said Texas leads the nation in the number of corporal punishment incidents, said paddling creates a harsher society.

"Acceptance of 260,000 schoolchildren receiving physical punishment each year in our public schools leads to continued violence in our society," said Mickelson, who also is the president of the board of directors for the Texas Coalition for the Prevention of Child Abuse.

"What our children are really learning from physical punishment is to use physical force to correct a problem."

Twenty-one states have abolished corporal punishment in their public schools, he said.

But Duggan testified that abolishing corporal punishment creates unseen problems for public schools.

"It is possible to eliminate corporal punishment , but we're going to have to create separate programs, separate centers and staff with additional personnel," he said.

The bill's failure comes in light of a move by the Houston Independent School District last year that banned corporal punishment in its schools.

At least three HISD schools, however, applied for waivers to the rule and now implement corporal punishment.

Corpun file 04519

The Oklahoman, Oklahoma City, 21 March 1991

Junior High Teacher Faces Assault Count

By Stacy D. Johnson, Tim Farley

MIDWEST CITY -- A junior high school teacher has been charged in municipal court with assault and battery on a 16-year-old boy after a parent complained his stepson was paddled excessively.

Bob Stephenson, 47, of Del City, was charged Wednesday, Maj. Brandon Clabes said. Stephenson teaches wood shop classes at Jarman Junior High School in the Midwest City-Del City school district.

John Lee, Stephenson's attorney, said his client will appear in municipal court for arraignment today and will plead not guilty.

"The only thing that I would say is that everything he tells me is it was not out of line at all. Certainly there was nothing immoral or illegal about what he did," he said.

The assault charge carries a fine of $207 and up to 30 days in jail, Clabes said.

Police reports show Keith Dean told police last week his stepson was paddled nine times by a teacher during a wood shop class.

The student said he had not completed a homework assignment and the teacher paddled him three separate times 15 minutes apart with a wooden paddle.

The teacher told the student he waited in between paddlings because he wanted "to build up his arm," according to the police report.

Clabes said photographs taken at the police department showed the student had severe bruising on his buttocks. The boy was taken to Midwest City Regional Hospital for treatment then released, he said.

District Attorney Robert H. Macy said he chose not to file state criminal charges against Stephenson because there was no physical evidence of severe bruising.

"The statute provides to use or attempt to use violence is not unlawful when used by a teacher in disciplining a student, provided the discipline is moderate and reasonable," Macy said.

The district attorney said he was told the student's buttocks were red, but they displayed no bruising.

"The evidence presented to me is they gave the student the opportunity to go to the principal's office, or be spanked. He chose to be spanked," Macy said.

Before the municipal charges were filed, Macy said he thought the case could have been resolved within the school district.

"There are adequate administrative remedies they can invoke in reference to the teacher. The best public policy is for it to be handled by the school itself," Macy said.

Lee said Stephenson has not been suspended but did meet with school officials and no disciplinary action was taken. The district is on spring break this week.

Jarman principal Clinton Groves and John Folks, Midwest City-Del City superintendent could not be reached for comment.

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