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The Sun News, Myrtle Beach, S. Carolina, 31 August 2000
Clash over discipline at boys school is resolved
Georgetown school won't allow spanking
By Rosanne Howard
GEORGETOWN -- A residential school for troubled boys in rural Georgetown County will no longer be using spanking as a discipline method, and the school director's name has been removed from the state's central registry of child abusers.
This was the agreement worked out Wednesday between Tara Hall Home for Boys Director Jim Dumm and the S.C. Department of Social Services. "It's been a trying time," said Dumm, who was already back at work at Tara Hall. "I'm delighted I'm no longer considered a child abuser and am back here with the boys. I'm humbled and gratified by the community support I've received."
Dumm, the school's director for 30 years, was forced to take a leave of absence in June after the parent of a boy complained to DSS that Dumm spanked him. Tom Rubillo, Dumm's attorney, said the school's past policy was to use corporal punishment sparingly and as a last resort. He said that when Dumm spanked the boy, he'd followed a protocol requiring witnesses to be present.
Dumm, who is also a member of the county's public school board, said Tara Hall's board was probably remiss in not re-evaluating its corporal punishment policy earlier.
"Corporal punishment has short-term positive effects," he said. "But in a situation like this, it could have long-term negative effects. He said the spanked boy had been at the school for three years; he withdrew after the spanking.
The school's summer enrollment is presently 17 to 18 boys, ages 6 to 13, but increases to 25 to 30 boys when school starts, Rubillo said. Dumm said Tara Hall is a private, nonprofit home.
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