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School CP - April 2001
Associated Press, 6 April 2001
Punishing child leads parents to file suit
MANY, La. (AP) -- The parents of a 10-year-old girl paddled by a Zwolle elementary school principal filed a lawsuit seeking to get the practice of corporal punishment declared unconstitutional.
Chenette and Robert Cahanin Jr. filed the lawsuit on March 30 against Judy Rials, principal of the Zwolle Elementary School, and the Sabine Parish school board.
The lawsuit in state district court in Sabine Parish accuses Rials of paddling the child in December to the point of leaving bruise marks on her buttocks. Hospital officials who examined the child labeled the incident as an assault, requiring the Cahanins to file a police report.
The Sabine district attorney's office declined to press criminal charges against Rials, saying there was no evidence of criminal intent.
Rials refused comment on the lawsuit Friday.
The incident in Zwolle is similar to one in Simmesport, where a group of parents are trying to get a principal fired after he was arrested at the end of March on a charge of violently paddling a 6-year-old girl.
The Cahanins' lawyer, Kent Mercier, called corporal punishment a cruel method of punishment that is no longer acceptable.
"Historically, it has been held constitutional, but I think there has been an overwhelming and dramatic shift in the appreciation of the value of corporal punishment, so that it is now considered dangerous to the children's psychological makeup," he said.
"You have a few counties and parishes left that are the last holdouts of corporal punishment in the world," he said.
Besides asking the courts to declare physical punishment unlawful, the Cahanins are seeking reimbursement of medical expenses and compensation for pain and suffering.
Mercier also charges that other parents have complained about Rials' use of corporal punishment, which points to a pattern of behavior.
Mercier cited one parent who said her child was paddled 17 times by Rials.
"It shows enough of a pattern that inquiries should have been made," Mercier said.
Schools Superintendent Dan Leslie denied that charge. "We've not had any complaints on her previously or since."
Houston Chronicle, TX, 7 April 2001
Paddling: Just the 'village' doling out justice?
Evidence for discipline
I doubt there is anyone reared in this country over the age of 45 who cannot recite a personal example of receiving corporal punishment, either at home or at school, and the positive impression it made on their behavior.
We all knew the "threat" of a paddling was present and it reminded us of the behaviors we were expected to exercise or avoid.
Charles M. White's March 31 Viewpoints letter is just one person's example ("Wood and strong-willed teachers can mold a child's character").
On the other hand is the claim that corporal punishment is child abuse, which creates the impression for children that violent behavior is acceptable.
Jimmy Dunne's so-called People Opposed to Paddling Students (Viewpoints March 30, "Dump school discipline bill") has been making that abuse claim in Viewpoints for at least 15 years now.
Yet, I have never heard one practitioner of armed robbery, assault, rape or battering recite the example of corporal punishment as inspiring them to violent behavior.
What people actually take into their mindset from the experience of corporal punishment only supports one side of this argument.
Those who oppose corporal punishment not only have faulty logic and no facts, but have had their point of view accepted and enacted at exactly the time that adolescents have become most abusive to their peers and disrespectful to their teachers.
Observable evidence shows that opposition to corporal punishment is not only misguided but detrimental to our nation.
Larry Volkening, Houston
Nonsense to hit, beat
Discipline, according to the dictionary, is "training to act in accordance with rules, to punish or penalize%3B to correct or chastise." Nowhere does the word "spank" appear.
Come on, parents and teachers: Quit hiding behind the word "spank," and call it what it is - hit, slap, beat, etc.
If a child or young adult is uncontrollable in school, remove the child and let the parents deal with the problem.
Hopefully, parents have enough sense not to "hit" their child, but can figure out the real problem. Patience with these future adults is the key - most parents hit their kids out of frustration.
Elizabeth Foley, Katy
Classrooms due safety
Each year, lawyers, lawmakers and "anti-spanking" types attempt and usually succeed in limiting the power of classroom teachers to control their classes. I say "hurray" for U.S. Rep. Kevin Brady's proposed solution: It's about time someone stood up for those on the front lines.
Randy Neuemeyer, Tomball
Discipline bill needed
The March 30 Viewpoints letter from Jimmy Dunne, "Dump school discipline bill," struck a chord with me. As the father of three, I understand the need for discipline. And what has been happening in our schools is the result of not disciplining our children.
Corporal punishment is acceptable if a process is in place that includes parental notification. Because, without it, many of our youth feel that they can get away with anything.
Kids need to know there are consequences to every action.
In no way am I advocating the beating of children. However, a couple of swats to quell a disruptive student that has not responded to other means of discipline is fine. If not, the students who do take school seriously will not have the opportunity to learn.
Corporal punishment is not brutality if used properly as a last resort to discipline problem students.
Many liberals have said, "It takes a village to raise a child." Corporal punishment is just the "village" doling out justice to those children who need it.
Allen Nichols, Magnolia
Press Journal, Vero Beach, FL, 10 April 2001
'Excessive' spanking gets Dawkins probation
The former pro-football wide receiver, now Dean at St. Peter's Academy Charter School, also was ordered to complete a 10-week anger management class.By Jayne Hustead
Press Journal Staff Writer
Corporal punishment goes out and the dean stays at St. Peter's Academy, a charter school in Gifford.
Dale Dawkins, the school's dean, was arrested Jan 24 after he paddled an 8-year-old boy who was disrupting class and wouldn't sit down, according to testimony Monday in County Court.
Dawkins, 1535 E. 56th Square, is a minister and former wide receiver for the New York Jets pro-football team. He was in County Judge Joe Wild's court to plead no contest to a charge of misdemeanor battery.
Both Wild and Assistant State Attorney Ed Taylor said they don't disagree with corporal punishment but pictures taken of the bruises on the boy's buttocks indicate "there was something excessive there," Wild said.
Taylor asked Wild to require the 24-year-old Dawkins to complete an anger-management course as part of his punishment so that "when he does discipline (children) he doesn't lose control."
Taylor said the boy's family agreed with the plea agreement.
Dawkins told Wild he was aware of what he did and stood by it. "I don't like to spank ... It doesn't suit me." he said, adding he has had to administer a lot of corporal punishment since becoming head of the 3-year-old school for kindergarten through grade four.
The students "know I'm there to help them, not hurt them. I love them all, and they love me," he said.
However, as a result of the legal action taken against Dawkins, the school's board of governors has eliminated the corporal punishment policy, said Dawkin's Vero Beach attorney Norman Green.
Instead, more emphasis will be put on detention, time-out and counseling, said board member Reuben Lane. All four current board members came to court to support Dawkins. Three new members will join the board this month for a total of seven, Lane said.
Corporal punishment also is listed as a potential consequence of breaking the student code of conduct at Vero Beach public elementary schools, according to a list from the school superintendent's office.
Dawkins, who excelled in football at Vero Beach High School and the University of Miami in the 1980s, played with the Jets from 1990 to 1995 before returning to the area.
"I'm aware of the good things you've done in this community since you came back and you deserve credit for that," Wild told him. "If you have corporal punishment, though, you have to watch the limit. This is a situation where it's easy to exceed the limit," he said.
Wild sentenced Dawkins to six-months probation and ordered him to attend and complete a 10-week anger management class. Wild said the probation can be terminated after three months if the class is completed and the court costs and fees are paid.
The State Attorney's Office originally charged Dawkins with felony child abuse, but dropped the charge in March to simple battery because there was no evidence of malicious intent, Assistant State Attorney Ed Taylor said.
Dawkins could have received up to a year in jail and/or a $1,000 fine.
nola.com, 27 April 2001
Paddling lawsuits stacking up on principal
ZWOLLE, La. (AP) -- Lawsuits are stacking up against an elementary school principal accused of excessively paddling children.
The latest claim, filed this week, comes from the parent of a 9-year-old boy. The child allegedly was paddled 17 times in the first eight weeks of school. The lawsuit also names a teacher and the Sabine Parish School Board as defendants.
Three weeks ago, Chenette and Robert Cahanin Jr. sued principal Judy Rials and the school board, claiming that paddlings by Rials in December left bruise marks on their 10-year-old daughter's buttocks.
District Attorney Don Burkett investigated the paddling of the 10-year-old girl, but declined to file charges, saying he found no basis for criminal intent.
Both lawsuits seek unspecified damages.
In the new lawsuit, Daphne Joy Ebarb said she protested her son's "beatings" to Rials and teacher Sheryl Wilson, said attorney Kent Mercier, but instead was threatened with having her son suspended for three days.
"They did not comply with her requests to stop paddling her son," Mercier said.
Ebarb's son has been diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, a neurological disorder for which he received medication.
Unlike the parents in the first suit, Ebarb never voiced her objections to the School Board or authorities.
Superintendent Dan Leslie said she was surprised to learn of Ebarb's lawsuit.
"I've never heard one word from her. It's never been brought to my attention."
Rials, too, was unaware of the lawsuit, but declined comment because of the pending litigation.
Mercier, who also represents the Cahanins, said the goal of the lawsuits is not a major monetary award.
"We just want to bring sunshine to an action that needs to be changed," Mercier said.
Both lawsuits seek to have corporal punishment declared unconstitutional, Mercier said.
Follow-up: 3 May 2001: Lawsuits Touch Off Debate Over Paddling in Schools (illustrated)
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