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School CP - June 1998

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Shawnee News-Star, Oklahoma, 16 June 1998

District settles lawsuit without admitting guilt

MUSKOGEE, Okla. (AP) -- The Howe School District, without admitting guilt, has settled a lawsuit brought by four special education students.

The four had claimed they were bound and forced into a feces-smeared shower stall as part of a history lesson on slave ships on Oct. 7, 1996.

U.S. Magistrate James L. Payne in Muskogee approved the $2,000 settlement June 5.

"You talk about it in terms of what it's going to cost the client to defend it from this point forward," said attorney Woody Glass, who represented Principal Darthur Drummonds and the school board. "And it would have cost from an economic standpoint more for the client to continue to pay us than settle it for the $2,000. We could spend $2,000 in legal fees in less than a day."

Drummonds and Glass said the lawsuit fell apart after the students gave depositions.

"It just became clear when we took depositions of students named in the lawsuit that many of the allegations alleged in the lawsuit weren't truthful," Glass said.

The students had alleged that teacher Linda Holland falsely imprisoned them, intentionally inflicted emotional distress and deprived them of their rights.

The lawsuit alleged Drummonds condoned the teacher's actions by failing to reprimand her and by giving them swats for complaining about the class exercise.

Each student had sought more than $100,000 on each of the three claims as well as punitive damages.

The lawsuit alleged the teacher placed them in a stall smeared with feces and with two sacks of soiled diapers hanging from showerheads. The students said the teacher read to them about conditions on slave ships and waved the sack of soiled diapers in their faces.

They said they eventually freed themselves from the restraints and were paddled by Drummonts without being given a chance to explain.

Glass said the students admitted in depositions they were disciplined because they turned on the showers and became disruptive.

"These people were unjustly accused and it came out in the depositions. That's why there was such a small settlement," he said.

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The Indianapolis Star, 25 June 1998

Schools to continue allowing paddling

Northwestern Consolidated School Corp. says parental OK is needed for corporal punishment

By Derrick Gingery

FAIRLAND, Ind. -- Northwestern Consolidated School Corp. will continue paddling students as a discipline option in every grade, but only as a last resort.

John Farnsley, Triton Middle School assistant principal and athletics director, said that in all cases in which paddling was used in his school last year, parents requested the punishment.

The job of determining whether paddling should be used on a child rests with the principal of each school and the child's parents. Paddling was used three times during last school year.

"We always invite the involvement of the parents (when we consider the paddling option)," Farnsley said. "We don't always act on the suggestion, sometimes it's not good for the student. There are other things we can try first."

A year ago, the board revisited the paddling policy. They recommend its usage only in rare cases.

The board reviewed a punishment report last week and did not take a vote to approve paddling. But it again offered no dissension from the policy, thereby letting it stand for another year.

Other methods, such as suspension and Saturday school, are tried first. Farnsley said corporal punishment is usually reserved for those students who repeatedly are discipline problems.

The principal, assistant principal and guidance counselor in each building are authorized to administer the punishment using a small wooden paddle without holes.

Farnsley is used to having the option at his disposal, though rarely used. He has served at schools in Edinburgh, Franklin and Rushville -- all of which have allowed paddling.

Discipline of any type at Triton Middle School was rare last year. Reports show that about 90 percent of students never got into trouble.

The ultimate goal of corporal punishment, Farnsley said, is to do what is in the best interest of the child. He also said the word circulated through the student body about it, aiding in deterrence as well.

"It was a situation where the students needed attention because they were doing things harmful to themselves and others," Farnsley said. "The punishment made a difference for those students."

School Board member Terry Morgan didn't remember any instances in which corporal punishment had been used prior to the last school year.

Morgan does not agree with the policy, contending that it does not deter discipline problems. And, he said, a clear definition of the instances when it is acceptable are needed.

"I think (paddling) is more of a way for someone to release their frustration," Morgan said. "There are other measures that can be taken."

The community has supported the use of paddling in the schools.

Farnsley and Morgan did not receive any telephone calls or remember any public discussion about the issue.

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