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www.corpun.com   :  Archive   :  2001   :  US Schools Aug 2001

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UNITED STATES

School CP - August 2001



WKYC.com, Cleveland, Ohio, 18 August 2001

Principal who admitted to paddling student says his career is over

A principal who was suspended last spring after he admitted to paddling one of his students says his career as a school administrator is over.

Bill Lee, the former principal at Garfield Elementary, was suspended for paddling a boy and calling him a foul name, according to officials.

At a speech Friday, Lee said the boy had a temper tantrum and nearly assaulted his own mother.

Lee says he followed the school's disciplinary policy which allows employees to use corporal punishment when they see fit.

2001 WKYC. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.



blob Follow-up: 28 August 2001 - Paddling in school declines, but debate goes on (Bill Lee appeals his suspension)

masthead Houston Chronicle, Texas, 18 August 2001

Banning The Board

New HISD policy puts paddling in the past

By Claudia Feldman
Staff

They used to be called pops, whacks or swats, and they were a part of everyday school life.

A kid, usually a boy, threw one too many erasers or made one too many greasy food messes in the cafeteria. A red-faced teacher sent the child to the office, and a burly administrator picked up a wedge of wood and slapped the kid on his backside.

The thwack of the paddle on jeans and bony bottom echoed eerily up and down a hallway. Some administrators turned on the public address system so all students could hear and be warned.

If they didn't straighten up, they could be next.

But no more. Children starting school Monday in the Houston Independent School District can scratch paddling off their list of worries. At a recent HISD board meeting, policy-makers voted to ban corporal punishment. A tradition that has spanned the life of the district has come to an official end.

Educators who applaud the change say more positive approaches to discipline can work at home, too.

"I don't like beating kids," says HISD Superintendent Kaye Stripling. "I think we are a sophisticated society that can learn ways to discipline children other than hitting them."

Even before the ban, the use of corporal punishment in the district diminished dramatically in the past 10 years. HISD for several years used a waiver system, which meant schools that wanted to paddle had to seek permission from the district.

Before laying a hand on a child, those campus administrators also had to have parental permission.

In the 1997-98 school year, there were nine campuses with waivers. At the start of this school year, there were none.

HISD may be among the last districts in the area to stop using paddles.

Spring Branch ISD doesn't use corporal punishment, and Fort Bend ISD and Katy ISD have both abolished it. Clear Creek ISD was the Texas leader on the issue -- it was the first in the state to abolish spanking in 1986.

Around the country, corporal punishment has fallen out of favor, too.

Twenty-seven states have banned it outright. Hundreds of school districts, just like HISD, have voted it down.

Instead of paddling, Stripling says, HISD teachers are learning classroom management techniques to discipline children and build, rather than tear down, self-esteem.

HISD is just catching up to the times, says Jerome Freiberg, a University of Houston education professor who designed Consistency Management & Cooperative Discipline, the approach taught to teachers on 51 HISD campuses and spreading.

"Banning corporal punishment is a national trend that started almost 30 years ago on the East Coast and has filtered across the country."

Freiberg says paddling is problematic for a host of reasons: Hitting children is counter to today's focus on child protection. It's too easy for angry adults to step over the lines of appropriate discipline. In these litigious times, those who administer the pops are targets for lawsuits. Research also shows corporal punishment doesn't work.

Freiberg adds, "With the issue of bullying at the forefront, having a big person hit a small person sends the wrong message."

In a new century, with escalating concerns about school safety and school violence, Freiberg prescribes an entirely different approach.

The very first day of school, he says, teachers should involve kids in establishing classroom rules and consequences for untoward behavior. "If everything is teacher-centered, the kids are passive. If everything is student-centered, the teachers burn out. The atmosphere needs to be person-centered, where children and adults benefit."

Teachers also need to get to know all their kids and involve all of them in classroom activities.

"Many classrooms have 20 percent citizens and 80 percent tourists," Freiberg says. "That is, 20 percent are called on all the time and become the teacher's helpers. You won't have discipline problems from that group. The problems will come from the tourists, who need to get much more involved and engaged. I've tested this theory in 10,000 classrooms. The more you engage the most troublesome kids, the better and faster they will learn self-discipline. Kids don't learned by being constantly controlled."

Teachers also need to gain their students' cooperation before disciplinary measures will have meaning, Freiberg says. "School suspensions, sending kids to alternative schools - those tactics don't help long term. Teachers who get students to cooperate with them will see an improved climate in the classroom, improved attendance, increases in standardized test scores and a reduction in discipline problems."

Freiberg says tactics that work in the classroom also work at home, and he suggests parents and teachers work together to send consistent messages.

A few examples: Freiberg suggests parents help kids set aside a predetermined time each afternoon or evening for homework.

"Before TV," he says.

Call a family meeting to divide chores, he suggests.

Kids can do laundry, wash dishes and help with the weekly grocery shopping on rotating schedules. "If kids know what is expected and they know the parents will follow up, they are more than happy to help. But what usually happens is one day a parent is upset because a child didn't do something, and the next day it's not mentioned at all."

Let the kids help, he says. Say there is one working parent responsible for three school-age kids. Let the middle child supervise the youngest child doing his or her homework. Let the oldest child help the middle child. The parent has time, then, to assist the oldest.

Even getting children to school on time will work more smoothly if the kids themselves take responsibility for the process. Buy them alarm clocks. They will be worth the minor expense, Freiberg says.

HISD trustee Laurie Bricker is a firm proponent of Freiberg's methods, and she has been working for years to rid the district of corporal punishment.

When she was a young teacher's assistant in Austin in 1972, she says, one of her duties was witnessing paddlings.

At the time, she says, she worked in a wealthy white school in its second year of forced integration. One day, she had to watch while a favorite African-American student was paddled. He didn't whimper, he didn't wail, he didn't respond at all.

"Why didn't you cry?" she asked later.

He pointed to scars on his arms and legs, signs of beatings at home. The boy told Bricker, "I wasn't about to let the assistant principal think he'd really hurt me."

Jimmy Dunne, founder and president of People Opposed to Paddling Students, has been trying to rid HISD of corporal punishment since 1981.

"It's child abuse," he says. "When I was teaching, I saw some people get sadistic pleasure from it."

There are, of course, conscientious adults who still endorse paddling.

One is board President Jeff Shadwick, the lone trustee at the July meeting who opposed the ban.

"Whether or not schools use corporal punishment, I think it should be an option for them," Shadwick says. "It can be abused, but it can be used correctly, too."



masthead Amarillo Globe-News, Texas, 19 August 2001

Forget the paddle

Houston ISD bans corporal punishment

HOUSTON (AP) - A whack on the backside with a paddle for running in the halls or throwing one too many erasers was once a sanctioned discipline practice at Houston schools, but not any more.

When classes start Monday, administrators in the Houston Independent School District can scratch paddling off their list of worries. The school board recently voted to ban corporal punishment.

Educators who applaud the change say more positive approaches to discipline can work at home, too.

"I don't like beating kids," district Superintendent Kaye Stripling said. "I think we are a sophisticated society that can learn ways to discipline children other than hitting them."

Over the past 10 years, the use of corporal punishment in the district had diminished. For several years the district used a waiver system, which meant schools that wanted to paddle had to seek permission from the district. Campus administrators also had to have parental permission.

In the 1997-98 school year, there were nine campuses with waivers. Last school year, there were none.

Houston ISD may be among the last districts in the area to stop using paddles.

Spring Branch ISD doesn't use corporal punishment, and Fort Bend ISD and Katy ISD have abolished it. Clear Creek ISD was the Texas leader on the issue; it was the first in the state to abolish spanking in 1986.

Around the country, corporal punishment has fallen out of favor, too. Twenty-seven states have banned it outright. Hundreds of school districts, just like HISD, have voted it down.

Instead of paddling, Stripling says, HISD teachers are learning classroom management techniques to discipline children and build, rather than tear down, self-esteem.

HISD is just catching up to the times, said Jerome Freiberg, a University of Houston education professor who designed Consistency Management & Cooperative Discipline, an approach taught to teachers on 51 HISD campuses.

........

Freiberg said paddling is problematic for a many reasons: Hitting children is counter to today's focus on child protection. In these litigious times, those who administer the pops are targets for lawsuits. Research also shows that corporal punishment doesn't work.

In a new century, with escalating concerns about school safety and school violence, Freiberg prescribes an entirely different approach.

On the first day of school, he said, teachers should involve kids in establishing classroom rules and consequences for untoward behavior. Teachers also need to get to know all their kids and involve all of them in classroom activities.

Freiberg said tactics that work in the classroom also work at home, and he suggests parents and teachers work together to send consistent messages.



masthead Dallas Morning News, Texas, 21 August 2001

Sparing the rod: A survey

Houston schools opened Monday with a new directive: no more paddling.

The school board voted to ban corporal punishment, and teachers are learning classroom management skills to discipline students and build, rather than tear down, self-esteem.

"I don't like beating kids," Superintendent Kaye Stripling said. "We are a sophisticated society that can learn ways to discipline children other than hitting them."

Twenty-seven states forbid corporal punishment. Texas leaves the decision up to local districts. Here is a roundup of policies in school districts across the region, compiled by Dallas Morning News staff writers:

YES

Dallas: Corporal punishment is allowed in Dallas as long as it is "reasonable and moderate and may not be administered maliciously or for the purpose of revenge," according to school board policy. "Everything really comes down to a decision of the principal and how they choose to discipline a student," said spokeswoman Loretta Simon.

Joshua Benton in Dallas

Plano: District policy permits spanking by principals, assistant principals or teachers, but it is rarely used, said Carole Greisdorf, a special assistant to the superintendent. "Essentially, it's a non-issue for us because we don't do it, but the ability to do it is in our policy," she said. The guidelines require administrators to inform parents of the punishment before it takes place. Parents can also submit written requests instructing the district not to use corporal punishment on their children.

Katie Menzer in Plano

East Texas: The Tyler Independent School District allows corporal punishment - and some parents even request it, said Gerald Barnes, an assistant superintendent. Parents are notified before a student is paddled, or parents can file requests with principals forbidding it for their children. But few parents have filed such written objections, he said. "Many times we've had people request corporal punishment, thinking they'd rather have that as an easy way out, a quick way to accomplish the discipline method."

Lee Hancock in Tyler

NO

Austin: Austin has not allowed corporal punishment for several years, said spokeswoman Nicole Wright.

Terrence Stutz in Austin

San Antonio: It bars any form of corporal punishment. "The district has long felt that physical punishment isn't a beneficial way to deal with student disciplinary needs," said Carmen Vasquez-Gonzalez, communications director.

David McLemore in San Antonio

Oklahoma City: The school district banned all paddling in 1989. "They just believe that corporal punishment is not an effective educational tool," said spokesman Todd Stogner.

Arnold Hamilton in Oklahoma City

El Paso: El Paso schools outlawed it a decade ago, along with other forms of physical discipline, such as running laps, because of legal threats and a consensus that "corporal punishment has never improved behavior," said spokesman Luis Villalobos. "There has to be more one- on-one communication between a school and parent whenever there is a behavior problem that could in the past be resolved with corporal punishment."

Diane Jennings in Dallas

Richardson: The district banned corporal punishment in the mid-1980s because of the "belief that other disciplinary actions are more appropriate," said spokeswoman Jeanne Guerra. She said student or parent conferences, or peer mediation, are encouraged instead. Some Richardson schools order detention or demerits for student rule-breakers.

Lesley Tellez in Richardson



Tribune-Herald, Waco, Texas, 26 August 2001

McLennan County schools use spankings sparingly

By Martha Ashe
Tribune-Herald staff writer

A couple of pops with the paddle for students who misbehave in class is still allowed in many McLennan County school districts, but administrators say they use the rod sparingly.

Students in the Houston Independent School District, the largest school system in Texas, no longer face the possibility of a spanking after trustees there recently banned corporal punishment.

Thousands of McLennan County students, however, still run the risk of being told to bend over if their misdeeds are serious enough.

Corporal punishment is an option in public schools in the Waco, Midway, Robinson and Lorena school districts, among others.

But the student code of conduct for the Waco Independent School District specifically states "it is strongly discouraged as a matter of practice."

"We don't encourage paddling, and we tell them you better have (permission) in writing from the parent before you paddle the child," said Marcia Anderson, WISD director of student management.

Typically, there are three or four cases each school year in which WISD students are paddled, Anderson said, and some years there are none.

The decline in the use of corporal punishment as a means of behavior management stems from a number of factors, school administrators say.

Studies and anecdotal information suggest that paddling is ineffective as a tool to change behavior, they say.

"It doesn't do any good," Anderson said. "You end up spanking the same kids over and over again. If it worked, you wouldn't have to do that."

Thomas Proctor, chairman of the educational psychology department in Baylor University's school of education, said he teaches his students, who will themselves become teachers, more effective means of eliciting desired behavior.

"Punishment in general is less effective than teaching students the behaviors we want," Proctor said.

Proponents of corporal punishment and others contend that student discipline has gone downhill because fewer and fewer schools are paddling kids.

But Proctor said any declining discipline is not the result of less frequent use of corporal punishment. Instead, he said, it's because schools have not replaced paddling with other means of discipline.

"We've thrown the baby out with the bathwater," he said.

More and more, schools are using practices such as isolating students who misbehave, administrators say.

The isolation period, generally called "in-school suspension," allows students a chance to "cool off," said Betty Murphy, a longtime educator and principal at Provident Heights Elementary School in Waco.

"It's a time to regroup," Murphy said. "They're at a carrel. It's a quiet place. It's an alone time."

A student assigned to in-school suspension at Provident Heights must write a "letter of restitution," outlining his misdeeds and describing appropriate behaviors, Murphy said.

They also must complete classroom assignments and discuss their behavior with counselors and an assistant principal, she said.

The districts' policies regulating corporal punishment also stipulate that administrators get parental permission before paddling a child.

At Lorena Elementary School, parental notification is required before corporal punishment is administered, said principal Kathy Lina.

But parents also are required to submit a letter in writing each year if they object to their child being paddled, Lina said.

Both requirements are just a method to keep the lines of communications open between educators and the parents, she said.

That, Lina said, is instrumental in maintaining classroom behavior.

"We work really close with the parents, and I think that's a reason we really don't have those kinds of problems," she said.

And communicating with parents often frightens students more than the paddling, Lina said.

"A lot of time when they realize we've talked to their parents, it's worse for them than anything else we could do," she said.

Murphy said the decision to paddle a student should reflect the parents' philosophy of discipline.

"I don't advocate it at all, perhaps only as a very, very last resort and that would have to be a family decision," she said. "I strongly believe that's a family-type decision that needs to be made by the parents.

"That's not to say I didn't take my own children every now and then and paddle them on their own behinds."

Jim Smith, superintendent of the Robinson school system, said fewer students are getting paddled in part because educators are concerned about being sued by upset parents.

Additionally, a generation of teachers has entered the profession who may not have been spanked by their parents, Smith said.

The reason corporal punishment is still on the books in some districts at all, Smith said, might be because veteran educators see it as a deterrent.

"The paddle is still present, but it may be more that kids have a fear of it than the actual use of it," he said.

Educators said the decision whether to spank a child is based on a number of factors, including parental preference, the severity of the misdeed and the number of times a student has misbehaved.

Bottom line, they said, the decision must be made on a case-by-case basis.

"I'm not saying that a good, old-fashioned paddling isn't exactly what a kid needs sometimes," said WISD's Anderson. "But it depends on the child."

2001 Cox Newspapers, Inc.
The Waco Tribune-Herald and Cox Interactive Media



Times Record, Fort Smith, Arkansas, 27 August 2001

Judge: Paddling Students OK; Parents Disagree

By John T. Anderson
Times Record

A paddle swat now and again does not violate a student's constitutional rights, a federal judge has ruled. U.S. District Judge Robert Dawson made his ruling in the case of a 12-year-old Magazine student whose parents sued Leona K. Cleveland, the school's elementary principal, after she paddled their child.

"The amount of punishment, two or three licks, is not unreasonable in view of the need to maintain discipline in the classroom," Dawson stated in his opinion, signed Wednesday.

Scotty and Mary Fox sued Cleveland last year in U.S. District Court in Fort Smith, claiming "intentional infliction of emotional distress and false imprisonment." The Foxes sought undetermined compensatory and punitive damages, attorneys' fees and costs associated with the case.

Their son was one of several students sent to the principal's office for acting up. When time came for him to step up and receive his licks, he moved his leg, resulting in a bruise to his leg. Cleveland admitted that one of the swats did land on the boy's thigh or hip.

The Foxes disputed how many of the swats landed on their son's thigh as opposed to his buttocks. The Foxes also claim the boy was not allowed to eat lunch after the paddling.

In his order of dismissal, Dawson stated, "(The Foxes) must demonstrate that (Cleveland's) conduct is shocking to the conscience and amounts to a severe invasion of the student's personal security and autonomy. ... We find that the defendant administered the corporal punishment in good faith to maintain discipline within the school. There is no evidence that the defendant acted with any malicious or sadistic intent to cause harm to (the child)."

The boy is still enrolled at the school, according to Superintendent James Isaacs, who heard of the ruling Friday. Isaacs said the ruling validates his school's philosophy on discipline.

"The dismissal is good news," Isaacs said. "I think that (corporal punishment) is a valuable part of school discipline."

Dawson, in his ruling, did not go so far as to broadly endorse the practice.

"Whether corporal punishment is a good or bad idea is not for this court to determine," Dawson wrote. "Many schools have no form of corporal punishment and discipline at those schools apparently is not a problem. Some schools, like Magazine, do not choose to 'spare the rod,' and that is a local decision as long as the punishment is not excessive or unreasonable. While this court is sympathetic to the concern of parents who do not wish for their children to be subjected to any corporal punishment in school, it is permitted by law and has been one accepted form of discipline in this country for many years."



Columbus Dispatch, Ohio, 28 August 2001

Paddling in schools declines, but debate goes on

By Mike Lafferty
Dispatch Staff Reporter

Spanking has its place in schools, say a Guernsey County principal suspended for invoking the practice and a Morgan County school board president whose district was singled out yesterday for its penchant for paddling.

Both are advocates of spanking, and both believe their constituents agree.

Bill Lee is appealing his suspension, and late last week he filed to run for the school board in Cambridge.

Jeff Shaner, president of the Morgan Local School Board, shrugged yesterday at a study that ranked his district No. 1 in Ohio in student spankings.

The Center for Effective Discipline used state education statistics to determine that the rural district, 65 miles southeast of Columbus, was the "Top Hitter" for the 1999-2000 school year.

The center, based in Columbus, advocates alternatives to paddling and tracks school-discipline procedures in Ohio.

Morgan earned the center's recognition for doling out 122 paddlings to 99 students. "We assume (paddling) wasn't effective," center Director Nadine Block said, noting that some students were paddled twice.

But Shaner views the statistics differently: "Fewer than 23 children were paddled more than once. That seems some sort of a deterrent."

Shaner also said paddlings in the 2,500-student district were down to 54 children last year.

"The culture in our community will be that we continue paddling. I don't see an outcry," said Shaner, a board member for six years.

Ohio allows corporal punishment in districts that have studied the issue and have a policy.

Lee has maintained he had little choice after a 7-year-old boy kicked him in the groin.

He said he routinely spanked his daughter, now a teen-ager, when she was growing up.

"She's a great kid," he said, adding that he disputes studies that indicate paddling is ineffective.

"I am a proponent; I have seen it work," he said.

But Block said paddling is out of favor. In Ohio, more than 68,000 paddlings were reported in 1983 compared with 816 in the 1999-2000 year.

Some administrators turn to paddling too easily, she said.

Sixty-six percent of the paddlings reported to the state in the 1999-2000 school year occurred in the 25 percent of districts rated lowest in educational effectiveness by the state Department of Education.

"There are no state-rated effective districts that paddle," Block said.

Some administrators paddle for violations such as talking in the hall, not completing homework, fighting, even circling instead of underlining answers on tests, she said.

Keeping children after school, suspensions and, most important, talking with parents, are better alternatives, she said.

"The thing that works best is to bring in the parents," she said. "I believe it works if you can get them in."

Shaner said Morgan County obtained its record with parental approval.

"Every parent is notified before their child is paddled and they have an option to refuse. Every child is paddled with permission," he said.

Copyright 2001, The Columbus Dispatch



blob Follow-up: 25 October 2001 - Spanking costs principal his job

logo Associated Press, 29 August 2001

Sheriff won't act on complaint by parents of paddled student

The Associated Press

SHREVEPORT, La. (AP) -- The Caddo Parish Sheriff's Department will take no criminal action on a complaint by parents who said a middle school official used excessive force when he spanked their son.

Officials with Donnie Bickham Middle School said the punishment was given Monday with the advance permission of the parents and was carried out in strict accordance with the Caddo guidelines for corporal punishment.

"The parent was called beforehand and given an option of in-school suspension or corporal punishment," Principal Jimmy Windham said. "She chose corporal punishment."

Windham said the punishment was administered by Assistant Principal Perry Daniel with a paddle that met policy standards and was performed in the presence of a witness.

Nevertheless, Marie Beers said she plans to file an official complaint with the Caddo School Board and is considering legal action in the incident regarding corporal punishment of 13-year-old James Beers.

Corporal punishment has been a hot-button topic of late. Parents in Sabine Parish sued the principal of Zwolle Elementary School alleging that corporal punishment was used as a means of correction too often and inappropriately.

On Tuesday, Marie Beers said she called the sheriff because her son still had raised welts on his rear end. "Come on now, two licks is two licks, not breaking the paddle over my son's butt."

SHREVEPORT, La. (AP) -- The only type of corporal punishment that may be used in Caddo schools is the striking of a student's buttocks with a paddle no more than three times. The paddle must be 24 inches long, 5 inches wide and 3/8 of an inch thick. There must only be one paddle per school...

According to a preliminary investigation performed by a Caddo sheriff's deputy, the paddle had been cracked before it was used and broke on the second swat, sheriff's office spokeswoman Cindy Chadwick said. "The sheriff's office is not going to file charges," Chadwick said.

Marie Beers said her James failed to deliver some additional homework assigned by his teacher as punishment for talking in class Friday.

"They called me and told me that for not doing the writing he was supposed to do, he could do in-school suspension and finish the writing or get two licks, finish the writing and just go back to class. I told them to go ahead and give him the two licks."

Beers said her son called her later in the afternoon complaining that his rear still hurt and that the paddle had cracked in half on the second swat.

"When I got home, I made him pull his pants down and show me his butt," Marie Beers said. "He still had a red mark with a big white welt on it, and that was eight hours later."

Tuesday, Marie Beers said the welts still were visible. "I've whipped my son before, but I've never left marks like that on him."

Windham said he investigated the complaint but found the punishment was carried out in compliance with the policy in every detail. "I talked to the witness, who is a female who works here on the staff, and she did not believe there was excessive force used."



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