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The Commercial Appeal, Memphis, Tennessee, 10 December 1998
Father contends wrestler paddled
Legal action 'pending'
By Kevin Gorman
The father of a Bolton High School wrestler has filed a report with the Shelby County Sheriff's Department saying Bolton wrestling coach Billy Gipson paddled his son at a practice last Thursday.
According to the report, Cleveland Crosslin said his son, Steven Crosslin, was hit once on the rear end with a wooden paddle for sitting down -- rather than standing up or kneeling -- during practice.
"Right now there's some legal action pending. I'd like not to make any comment," Cleveland Crosslin said when reached at his home by telephone Wednesday afternoon. "No lawsuit has been filed. I'm not saying one won't be, but none at this time."
Gipson did not return several phone messages on Wednesday. The second-year coach has been suspended with pay pending the outcome of a Shelby County Board of Education investigation.
Inspector Joe Ball of the Shelby County Sheriff's Department said his office is investigating the complaint, and is taking statements from witnesses and the alleged victim.
If detectives believe there is probable cause to charge Gipson, a request for indictment will be given to the District Attorney General. The case then would be presented to the grand jury, which can indict.
Bolton principal Snowden Carruthers said that assistant coach Robert Lyles was put in charge of the team during the Black Horse Invitational at Houston High last Friday and will remain so until the investigation is completed.
The Commercial Appeal has no records of Steven Crosslin, a junior, competing in any varsity matches this season.
Carruthers said that Cleveland Crosslin has transferred his son to another Shelby County high school. Shelby County BOE spokesman and athletic director Jimmy Hayslip said that a transfer has been requested but not finalized.
Carruthers and Hayslip said that Gipson has had no prior incidents on his record.
"The man's record has been good," Hayslip said. "We haven't had a problem like this (with Gipson) at any time in the past. But he has the responsibility as wrestling coach and, in my opinion, it was a poor judgment.
"It is a matter of grave concern. We want to make sure fairness or firmness is the end result."
Corporal punishment is legal in Tennessee, but Hayslip said Board of Education rules stipulate that paddling must be carried out by the principal or a designee of the principal with the principal present.
Carruthers said he was not present during the paddling.
"It is allowed, but it's the last form of discipline," Hayslip said. "Corporal punishment is a gray area. You just have parents right now (saying), 'You better not touch my kid.'
"The bottom line is this is supposed to be done in front of the principal or assistant principal. There was a mistake made that it was not done in the presence of a principal. We're talking about a mess right now."
Staff reporter Chris Conley contributed to this story.
Savannah Morning News, Georgia, 15 December 1998
Principal charged with paddling freshman too hard
Montgomery County High School Principal Michael Parker denies being arrested on charges of child cruelty -- Police authorities say otherwise
By Jennifer Rose Marino
MOUNT VERNON -- Prison officer Larry Wilkes has always agreed with corporal punishment -- so much so that he gave school officials written permission to paddle his 15-year-old son, Justin.
But when he saw the huge bruises on the freshman's buttocks about a week ago, he was outraged.
"(The bruise) is 10 inches long and six and a half inches wide, all the way across his tail," said Wilkes, who works at Montgomery State Prison. "No three licks is gonna do that. He had to hit my youngun' real hard."
Wilkes, who learned that his son had been paddled by Montgomery County High School Principal Michael Parker, decided to pursue his own justice. After getting the cold shoulder from school authorities, he swore out an arrest warrant in Magistrate Court against Parker.
The Montgomery County Sheriff's Department and the Montgomery County Department of Family and Children Services were contacted; photographs of the injuries were taken; and in the second week of December, Parker was arrested.
"There's nothing wrong with corporal punishment -- as long as it's done the right way," said Wilkes.
"As far as I'm concerned, children are supposed to be paddled as part of the disciplinary procedure. But there's a difference between discipline and abuse."
Parker, who was contacted Monday afternoon, refused to comment except to say that he was not arrested.
But Montgomery County Sheriff Clarance Sanders said that Parker was charged with one count of cruelty to children under 18 and released on bond.
"He was arrested," said Sanders. "He was fingerprinted and everything. He can lie if he wants to."
Montgomery County School Superintendent Jim Paul Poole said that, based on an internal investigation, Parker did nothing wrong when he administered corporal punishment to Justin Wilkes.
"At this point, I don't see any disciplinary action being taken to the principal," said Poole on Monday.
In the hands of Parker, Justin Wilkes received what's known as corporal punishment -- better known in school terminology as "three licks" -- the equivalent of being paddled three times.
The student said Parker knew he "hit me too hard."
"He brought me back in the office and said he'll keep this between us," he said.
That's what's bothering Larry Wilkes, who signed a document that said corporal punishment could be administered to his son at school -- as long as he was notified.
Poole said that Parker tried to call Larry Wilkes on the day of the paddling, but was unsuccessful. He also said that the school sent a letter to Larry Wilkes informing him of the incident.
Larry Wilkes said he received no such letter.
The paddling stemmed from an obscene gesture Justin Wilkes allegedly made at his bus driver.
Wilkes, a 227-pound wrestler and football player who is nearly six feet tall, said he has been sent to the principal's office at least three times in the past year for misbehaving. He said that Parker paddled him in the past, but that the previous paddlings weren't nearly as hard as the most recent one.
A court date for Parker has not yet been set, said Sanders.
Chatham County prohibits corporal punishment, but school officials from 10 other school boards in surrounding counties said that they allow some form of corporal punishment. They say it is closely monitored and is used only in severe circumstances.
McIntosh County school Superintendent Hannah Tostensen said corporal punishment goes on in her schools -- even though she is personally against it.
"I'm not comfortable with it," she said.
"How do you teach children not to be violent and not to strike when you strike them? That's a no-brainer to me."
The Rocky Mountain News, Denver, Colorado, 25 December 1998
The growing police state of our public schools
Years ago, schoolboy fights led to paddlings, suspensions, loss of privileges at home, and other parental punishments. But, today, in our politically correct society, one punch, in response to severe verbal abuse, leads to criminal records.
Our public high schools now have resident policemen. Deans and principals, acting as agents for the police, question children regarding their roles in such behavior, without their parents consent, without giving the children their Miranda rights or even a right to an attorney. Then, the deans use such statements as a cause to have the children arrested.
The idea that these juvenile records will not harm them in their adulthood is ludicrous. President Clinton wants to bar adults who had juvenile records from purchasing guns. That means that juvenile records could impact their adult lives.
And how long will it be before such juvenile records prohibit them from becoming gunsmiths or teaching in our schools? Look how far we've come in our departure from common sense.
Raymond T. Tillman
Copyright © 1998, Denver Publishing Co.
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