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www.corpun.com   :  Archive   :  2002   :  US Schools Jul 2002

-- THE ARCHIVE --


UNITED STATES

School CP - July 2002




The Courier, Houma, Louisiana, 2 July 2002

Officials speak out on corporal punishment

By Kimberly Krupa
The Courier

(extracts)

A plan to end corporal punishment in Terrebonne Parish schools received lukewarm support from School Board members during a committee meeting Monday, with some board members speculating it would aggravate parents and others calling for a universal ban.

The move organized by school officials is to put an indefinite hold on hitting children in school, no matter how disruptive their behavior may be, and instead pursue other discipline alternatives.

Pat Luke, who supervises student services, is advocating the non-violent approach to punishment, saying it's long overdue in Terrebonne Parish and will reflect society's general stance against aggression.

School Board approval is not required to put a moratorium on corporal punishment, since the change is more of a difference in philosophy than policy. Luke said Louisiana and Terrebonne's mutual policy of allowing teachers and principals to hit students in school will be left intact, but administrators will discourage schools from using it beginning this fall.

But although Luke argued the district's corporal punishment policy seems to contradict the system's zero-tolerance stance toward fighting and harassment and bully rules, School Board members said many parents who have contacted them appear to prefer physical discipline.

"It's a psychological tool, fear of the rod," said board member Rickie Pitre. "I never signed for my children to be disciplined in that fashion but some parents would probably appreciate us maintaining that. Whether principals agree with it or not, at least give parents the option of doing it."

Parents who favor corporal punishment, board members said, are often single parents, working families who cannot afford to take off work if their child is suspended from school.

"They're saying, 'I prefer to have that hanging over my child's head,'" said Pitre, who added that in his 16 years on the School Board he's never heard complaints of corporal punishment being overused.

"Many parents would rather have you hit the child than send them home, especially when a parent is working," said board member Ray LeBoeuf. "I'm concerned when you have a parent who's really in a dilemma to provide supervision to a student. We're putting them in a bind."

Physical discipline is mostly used in four district schools, which together account for about 62 percent of reported incidents. Although school officials would not name the schools where corporal punishment is most used, Superintendent Liz Scurto said students are hit at the alternative schools.

The total number of incidents involved less than 6 percent of the district population, said Luke.

"Just because we have it doesn't mean they use it," said LeBoeuf. "With paddling, I tend to feel it's not as big of an issue as it sounds."

But Luke disagreed, saying all his research indicates corporal punishment is not the right way to correct a wayward student.

Twenty-seven states have banned corporal punishment. Of the 23 mostly Southern states where hitting children in school is still allowed, 10 have a majority of school districts that have voluntarily shunned the measure.

In 1998, the federal Department of Education reported about 400,000 students across the country are hit each year in school, although other child-advocacy groups put that number closer to 1 million.

Overall, though, the number of students paddled - the most common form of physical discipline - has dropped by more than half since 1988.

"Now there's more of an awareness about what child abuse is," said Luke in an interview. "I think we probably, in society and education, have more of an awareness of the far-reaching effects of child abuse among youngsters. And we don't want to contribute to that negative effect."

Luke estimates corporal punishment fell out of fashion in Terrebonne in the mid-1980s, when school officials frowned on physical discipline in high school and junior highs. Today, Luke said the schools that use corporal punishment the most tend to have principals who grew up in a time when it was an accepted and expected form of discipline.

...........

In Terrebonne, the decision to stop hitting children in school was made internally, not because parents protested, said Luke.

Board President John Pizzolatto was the only board member at the Education and Policy Committee meeting who fully supported banning corporal punishment, even if for forever.

"Personally, I have gotten to the point in my old age where I don't think we should spank anybody. Let somebody else do it. We don't have to do it," said Pizzolatto.

Although some School Board members and parents have suggested the district limit the use of corporal punishment to the East Street and Andrew Price alternative schools, Pizzolatto said that would be inconsistent and unfair.

"I hope you come up with a recommendation soon. Either you do it or you don't do it. There's no in-between," he said.

Copyright 2002 Houma Today




Los Angeles Independent, 10 July 2002

What a long, strange trip it has been

After 36 years at Hollywood High School, vice principal Richard Rippey calls it a career

By Kevin Butler

(extracts)

Richard Rippey knows a lot of people. Or, rather, a lot of people know him.

When the former teacher and vice principal of Hollywood High School goes to the grocery store, for a jog or hiking in Yosemite National Park, he is often approached by former students, many of whom credit him for changing their lives.

"You don't even know they are going on [to college], and then they come back to the reunion and say, 'You made an impact on my life,'" says Rippey, who retired this summer.

In his 36 years at Hollywood High, Rippey saw the school go from mostly English-speaking whites to an international student body speaking dozens of languages. He's seen corporal punishment come and go and witnessed first hand the radical turmoil of the 1960s to the worsening problems of drugs, gangs and teen pregnancy during the 1990s.

"There were different and new challenges [as time went on]," he says. "But I enjoyed it. My philosophy is to quit while you are still having fun, and I thought it was time to quit and move onto something else."

..........

It was a tough job, requiring 40 hours of preparation just during weekends and after school.

"It's fun when you are successful, it's not fun when you lose," he says. "I felt I had some successful seasons, but I found out that it's 95 to 98 percent the kids, and about 2 to 5 percent the coach."

Maybe on the football field, but in the classroom, much more than 5 percent of his players' academic success was due to Rippey, who emphasized grades before football. The most thrilling moments of his teaching career came not from championship victories, but from signing letters of recommendation for college.

"A lot of kids I feel stayed in school because of athletics," he says. "I had a lot of football players that I dragged to class."

Rippey was a self-confessed "hardass" as a coach and wasn't afraid to wield the paddle -- a common discipline measure back then. He finds it funny that the toughest players on the field were often the biggest babies "taking swats." One of his most massive players flinched so much while taking swats that his fellow teammates tried to get him in trouble so they could enjoy watching him tremble.

"[Corporal punishment] was effective," Rippey says. "I think it could be abused, but we just did it with our football team, not our P.E. classes."

..................

But in the midst of urban problems, Hollywood High was better off than other schools, he says.

"Hollywood has been pretty good," he says. "There's so much racial diversity that the gangs even keep most of their stuff off-campus. We have gang problems across the street. But high school campuses are pretty much neutral turf."

The widespread breakdown in student discipline isn't unique to high school, but is part of a larger phenomenon.

"I think that's the whole society," Rippey says. "That goes back from generation to generation to generation, and isn't it Socrates who says the kids are getting out of hand, they don't listen to their parents and they're wearing long hair?"

................




masthead
The Advocate, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, 10 July 2002

School Board to let teachers dispense corporal punishment

GREENSBURG -- Teachers will be allowed to dispense corporal punishment in St. Helena Parish public schools this semester despite a recommendation that the practice cease, the School Board decided on a 3-2 vote.

The issue came before the board during its meeting Monday night after a committee made up of teachers and parents offered a change in the school system's School Rules and Code of Conduct Handbook.

The committee suggested the board adopt the following language for its handbook:

"St. Helena Parish does not condone corporal punishment. Behavioral concerns in a classroom may be referred to the principal or his designee. However, if corporal punishment is administered, the following guidelines must be adhered to ..."

The guidelines are the same as the current rules, said acting Superintendent Shirley McCray, who presented the committee's recommendation.

Current guidelines prohibit cruel or inhumane physical punishment, require other forms of punishment first, require witnesses present, and give parents the right to demand written explanations.

However, most board members balked at going on record against condoning corporal punishment, even when restricted to principals or designees.

"Principals set policies by site," board member James Baker said. "If they want to handle that discipline, they can. But it may take up too much of his time. Personally, I don't have a problem with it (current policy)."

Some teachers in the audience suggested that corporal punishment has its advantages.

Often, they said, a rap with a ruler will cut short classroom disruptions.

They also said students sent to the principal's office instead of receiving corporal punishment can lose most of a school day awaiting disciplinary action if the principal is away from his office.

Deputy Sheriff Richard Womack told the board he wants schools to be responsible for contacting a parent of students prior to, or at least soon after, corporal punishment is administered.

"If my daughter is punished like that, I'll want to know why," Womack said.

The current policy leaves it up to parents to contact the school concerning corporal punishment given their children, although an explanation by teachers is required.

Board member Willie Lee offered a motion to retain the current policy. It drew support from Baker and Linda Phillips. Members Brenda Hurst and Al Travis voted against keeping the current policy.




Northwest Arkansas Times, Fayetteville, 14 July 2002

Sparing the rod

Fayetteville drops corporal punishment from policy, becomes second school district in county to do so

By Jenn Long
Northwest Arkansas Times

A recent Fayetteville School Board decision to remove an age-old disciplinary procedure from its policy books marks the district as the second in Washington County to say farewell to paddling.

Winslow School District, the smallest district in the county, banned corporal punishment five years ago.

Despite an increasing national trend to banish corporal punishment from school discipline policies, other Washington County school district officials said they doubt they will follow Fayetteville's example in the near future.

During their June meeting Fayetteville school board members unanimously approved a motion to purge the corporal punishment procedure from the student handbook with little discussion.

"The district has adopted a discipline with dignity approach and I think it is obvious that corporal punishment is not a part of the discipline with dignity philosophy," Fayetteville Superintendent Bobby New said.

For Fayetteville schools, the move to scratch out corporal punishment was an attempt to bring the policy up to date with actual school practices.

Paddling, though previously sanctioned by Fayetteville's districtwide policy, has not been actively in use for several years, officials said.

Fayetteville school administrators were prompted to make the recommendation after a parent voiced some concerns over the punishment's inclusion into the discipline policy, New said.

"It was in policy, but not in practice," he said. "I think that parent's concern was symbolic of the community and the community philosophy and we are glad as a school district to respond to that concern."

Since the board's decision, school administrators said they have only received positive comments from the district patrons. Some patrons have even called the old procedure "archaic," said Alan Wilbourn, the district's director of school and community relations.

Ironically, parent support is the same reason surrounding school districts have kept the paddling policy alive, some area superintendents said.

"Actually some parents want you to paddle their child," said Farmington Superintendent Ron Wright.

Though Farmington High School no longer paddles students, the principals of the lower schools in the district reportedly still take advantage of the discipline policy. But, Wright said, the district also recognizes that paddling does not necessarily affect every student the same way.

"Paddling may not have any effect on some students, so we use another method, like ISS (In School Suspension)," Wright said.

Prairie Grove School District also considers each incident separately. In fact, the district's policy only allows administrators to paddle students once -- second-time punishment includes a form of suspension, according to Prairie Grove Superintendent Tom Louks.

"We believe in corporal punishment but if it doesn't work we do not do it again," he said.

Both Prairie Grove and Farmington schools must have parental permission to paddle a student, district officials said.

Corporal punishment is still a popular policy statewide, according to figures from the Arkansas Department of Education. During the 2000-01 school year, 55,772 students were subjected to corporal punishment, according to district reports sent to ADE. That number translates to more than 12 percent of the state's student population -- one of the highest in the nation, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Arkansas -- one of 23 states that has not banned corporal punishment -- leaves the districts' discipline policies to the discretion of each school board.

For the Winslow School District, banning the procedure five years ago was the smartest thing to do both legally and financially for the district, Superintendent Roger Oge said.

As a former superintendent in Mountain Home, Oge led that district to become one of the first in the state to ban corporal punishment.

"There are several reasons for not using it. It is the parent's responsibility and the parent should be involved in something like that. Also, there are just too many lawyers in the world," Oge said. "It is also a matter of protecting the district."

All school districts that do use the punishment policy regularly do so only as a last resort, as stated in their district policies, and the procedure seems to be reserved for younger grades.

As in Farmington, Elkins High School and middle school principals do not use corporal punishment, while the elementary school administrators will use it sparingly.

Keeping students in school is what prompts many school officials to take up the paddle rather than suspend students, where they essentially get a vacation from school. Paddling can effectively punish students and still keep them in the classroom.

Revising current corporal punishment policies isn't completely out of the question, local superintendents said, especially those policies that haven't been reviewed in years. However, removing the paddling punishment altogether is highly unlikely.

Farmington School District's procedure hasn't been reviewed since 1986, which is why there has been some discussion among school administrators to revisit the policy.

"I think it may be time to revisit, not that we would do away with the policy," Wright said. "I think it would be good to go back and look at the policy and determine if there is a need to revise it."

Copyright 1997- 2001 Community Publishers, Inc./ Arkansas-Democrat Gazette. All Rights Reserved.




Bucks County Courier Times, Levittown, Pennsylvania, 17 July 2002

Bill bans spanking in school

A state legislator says policies permitting corporal punishment amount to institutionalized child abuse

By M. Bradford Grabowski
Courier Times

HARRISBURG - A leading state lawmaker wants to take the paddle out of teachers' hands.

State Rep. Mike Veon of Beaver County is introducing legislation that would forbid corporal punishment in Pennsylvania public schools.

The Pennsylvania School Code permits physical reprimands in the state's 501 school districts.

"This is about freeing Pennsylvania school children from the threat of child abuse under protection of the law," said Veon, the second-ranking Democrat in the House.

Veon said he plans to introduce the legislation next week. He's lobbied for banning corporal punishment since 1994, but his previous bills haven't been adopted by the legislature.

But a ban is starting to gain support among state education officials.

A committee of the state Board of Education recently recommended banning corporal punishment. The board's Council of Basic Education will consider the proposed ban today. If the council approves, it will recommend the full board adopt the ban tomorrow. The regulations also would need the approval of the state House and Senate education committees, an independent regulatory review panel and the state attorney general's office before they could take effect, most likely by late fall.

But even if officials endorsed a ban, schools could legally continue to use corporal punishment if they chose. The legislature needs to get involved to specifically ban the practice, said Veon, D-14.

Pennsylvania is among 23 states that allow spanking and other physical punishments in school. Although the state gives local school districts discretion over using it, few specifically use or permit corporal punishment.

An anonymous survey conducted by the National Center for the Study of Corporal Punishment & Alternatives found that at least eight school districts in Beaver County allow corporal punishment, but none uses it. In Bucks County, at least one school district allows corporal punishment, but it does not actually use it. In Montgomery County, at least four school districts allow corporal punishment, but none uses it. In Fayette County, three school districts use corporal punishment, and three others allow it but don't use it.

Corporal punishment is not effective, according to Irwin Hyman, director of the center and a psychology professor at Temple University. Instead of suppressing behavior, it causes aggression, embarrassment and low academic performance. Its use can lead to lawsuits and costly settlements.

"In some cases, it can be legalized child abuse, because teachers are only the adults in society allowed to hit our children with wooden paddles in the name of discipline under the law," said Hyman, a psychology professor. "It's inherently stupid, because child abuse laws say you can't hit kids with wooden instruments. They leave bruises."

In order for the ban to become law, the House and Senate must both approve Veon's bill. The governor must sign it into law.

"I am willing to bet it's inevitable we will ban corporal punishment in Pennsylvania," Veon said.

"Old habits die hard," he said, explaining why it's taken so long. "It's an issue that has transcended politics and the legislature and I think it's really a cultural issue we're trying to change by legislation. Sometimes those types of changes take longer to get through the legislature."




Galveston County Daily News, Galveston, Texas, 19 July 2002

HISD votes to ban corporal punishment

By Ted Streuli
The Daily News

HITCHCOCK - The Hitchcock school board voted unanimously this week to do away with corporal punishment in its schools.

Corporal punishment is allowed under Texas law. School districts decide independently whether physical punishment will be part of local disciplinary policy.

Hitchcock Superintendent Ruth Kane favored the board's decision.

"I've never been in favor of it for many, many years," Kane said.

Kane said corporal punishment does not change behavior and that it amounts to punishing violence with violence. She also said it opens district personnel to litigation for excessive force.

Hitchcock's discipline policy previously required parents to approve the use of corporal punishment in advance.

Kane said that in addition to indicating their preference on a form at the beginning of each school year, parents were contacted by telephone for consent before corporal punishment was used.

Copyright 2002 Galveston County Daily News




Express-Times, Easton, Pennsylvania, 19 July 2002

Board of education puts paddles out to pasture

From staff and wire reports

HARRISBURG -- The State Board of Education unanimously agreed Thursday that Pennsylvania should join 27 other states in banning corporal punishment from public schools.

The state currently allows individual school districts to decide whether to physically punish students, but board members said the practice sends a wrong message to students.

"There are lots of other ways to punish students," said Edith Isacke, a board member in charge of a committee that endorsed the ban. "Here we are trying to teach nonviolence in school, so why should the teachers be violent?"

Local school officials praised the ruling Thursday. Most said it has been years since corporal punishment was used in their districts.

"Paddles and corporal punishment are part of a bygone era as far as I am concerned," said Bangor Area School District Superintendent John Reinhart. "The message has been spread for the last decade or so that corporal punishment is not an acceptable form of punishment. However there are times when (teachers) have to separate and restrain students because of altercations or when students become violent."

He added that paddles, once used by district officials to swat students, have long since been removed from Bangor Area schools.

The proposed regulations would allow teachers and administrators to use "reasonable force" under specific circumstances, such as self-defense or restraining a student.

Saucon Valley High School Principal Curt Dietrich said the use of reasonable force was important to the proposed legislation because it gives teachers an additional tool to restrain violent students.

He recalled incidents in the 1980s when fellow teachers paddled students as an alternative to reporting student misconduct to school disciplinary officials.

"I don't see a large impact, if any, the ruling will have in the way we discipline students," Dietrich said.

He said Saucon Valley School District policy already prohibits school officials from paddling students. He wasn't aware of any local school districts that still allow paddling to discipline students.

For 1997-98, the most recent years for which data are available, 90 students were struck in Pennsylvania, a rate of less than one-tenth of 1 percent.

In New Jersey, paddling students has been outlawed by state officials for years, said Phillipsburg School District Superintendent Gordon Pethick.

"Reasonable force has been part of Phillipsburg operational procedures for a long time," Pethick said. "The concept of a paddling is foreign to us."

Pethick said in his 30 years with the district he could not recall an incident when students were paddled. He said school officials rely on a mixture of in- and out-of-school suspensions, and various other methods for disciplining students.

Data collected by the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights, show 365,000 incidents of corporal punishment in U.S. public schools, down from 1.5 million in 1976.

The state Department of Education doesn't keep statistics on how many of the state's 501 districts now permit spanking, although the Pennsylvania School Boards Association has estimated the number is relatively small. Private and parochial schools are not required to follow the state code.

The regulations will undergo additional review. The House and Senate education committees and an independent regulatory review panel will recommend any changes, then send the revisions back to the state board, which will vote to put them into final form.

....................

Copyright 2002 PennLive.com. All Rights Reserved.



blob Follow-up: 18 December 2003 - Panel proposes ban on paddling


York Dispatch, Pennsylvania, 29 July 2002

South Eastern spares the rod

Corporal punishment now prohibited

By Chris Kauffman
For Dispatch/Sunday News

As state lawmakers look to abolish corporal punishment in schools, the South Eastern School Board removed spanking from the district's discipline policy.

Officials first decided to oust spanking as a form of discipline last month after a routine review of the district's rules, said Superintendent Tom McShane.

Corporal punishment was abolished and replaced with a physical contact policy that gives school employees the right to intercede when students are in a fight.

Spanking is not necessary for discipline in a school district, McShane said.

Kennard-Dale High School Principal John Sengia agreed with the board's decision, saying he never had to use the policy anyway.

"I was never in favor of it. I never had to enforce it. I don't believe in it. It's an archaic discipline system that's end has finally come," he said.

The district's decision came as the state Board of Education's recommendation to ban corporal punishment is being reviewed in the House and Senate education committees in preparation for a final vote.

Pennsylvania is currently one of only 23 states that hasn't banned corporal punishment. In York County, only Hanover Public, Southern, Eastern, and West Shore school districts still allow spanking, but each says the policy is never practiced.

Parents of children in those school districts also can prohibit the use of physical force when school officials discipline their children.

1999-2001 MediaNews Group, Inc. and York Newspapers, Inc.



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