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Corpun file 4542 at www.corpun.com
The Oklahoman, Oklahoma City, 13 December 1982
Spanking probe meeting slated
By Diane Hust
School officials were planning to meet this afternoon with the attorney representing a 12-year-old Capitol Hill Middle School student who was allegedly bruised by a paddling.
Lawyer Steven Novick said he planned to discuss a school investigation report on the matter with Vern Moore, director of Oklahoma City's middle schools.
Brenda Shepherd contends her son, Tommy Merritt, was bruised on the leg by a spanking he received for talking in class.
Meanwhile, one of the district's teachers' groups announced Friday it will ask the Oklahoma City school board to drop subscriptions to the Daily Oklahoman and Times because of "front-page coverage of a minor and unsubstantiated accusation against a teacher."
Dave Renfro, president of the Oklahoma City Federation of Teachers, said he has represented accused teacher Mason Guy Jr. against the complaint he bruised Tommy by giving him two swats with a wooden paddle.
"Every witness and every bit of evidence pointed to the fact that (Guy) is completely innocent of bruising the child," Renfro said. "Aside from what we consider false accusation, the (teachers' federation) is very upset that these unsubstantiated charges be given front-page coverage, thus endangering the good name and reputation of a respected teacher."
Guy received a Presidential citation a few years ago for pulling two children from a burning house that neighbored the school, Renfro said.
"That story was buried, too. This man is a good person and a respected teacher, and this investigation will show he is not guilty of child abuse. Yet he is subjected to this kind of publicity," Renfro said.
Schools officials have said earlier that the boy's 6 to 8-inch bruise could have been caused by a fight Tommy had with another student Dec. 2, the day before the paddling.
But Novick said Friday "several troublesome things" are in the school officials' report on the spanking.
"I'm concerned about the findings of the report," he said " . . . I didn't want to discuss it until the facts are straightened out."
St Louis Post-Dispatch, Missouri, 15 December 1982
Teachers Union Head Urges Restoration Of Spankings
By Robert L. Koenig
The adage "spare the rod and spoil the child" took on new significance Tuesday night as the St Louis School Board was asked to reinstitute corporal punishment in public schools.
One year after the School Board banned corporal punishment, Evelyn Battle White, President of St Louis Teachers Union Local 428, is asking for its return.
"There is a systemwide student disrespect for teachers and other supervisors," Mrs White stated in a letter she read to board members. "There are unbelievable problems in discipline, with you providing but one administrative support of sending students home through suspensions and expulsions. In the past, many of these situations were remedied through the 'threat' of corporal punishment."
Although board members listened patiently to Mrs White's appeal to "act on this tonight," there was no move to bring back the rattan sticks that used to be standard issue in the schools.
In November 1981, the board had abolished a regulation that allowed corporal punishment "in extreme circumstances... when all other methods to control disruptive behavior had failed." That regulation stated that "a rattan could be applied to the buttocks" of offending pupils "by the school principal in the presence of a witness."
Mrs White said Local 420 had objected to the board's abolishment of corporal punishment because "there would be a breakdown in discipline throughout the school system".
Corpun file 25625 at www.corpun.com
The Milwaukee Journal, Wisconsin, 16 December 1982, pp. 1, 15
Teacher administers 'board of education'
By Kevin Merida
Carl Evans tries to intimidate his students at Walker Middle
School because "that's what they need," he says.
The paddle has the signatures of the 17 brave souls who have
faced up to it this school year. They include four students who
insisted on talking about each other's mother in class, a student
who asked to be hit so that he wouldn't have to do any work and a
student who spoke out of turn.
There is an interesting story about the development of the Carl
Evans brand of corporal punishment.
Students strike back
Through the years Evans has refined the ploy. He now begins
each school year by pointing to the paddle, which hangs on a nail
near the blackboard. He smacks it against his leg.
"I hit one kid on a Monday and he gave me a Christmas card
on a Tuesday," Evans said.
Corpun file 4424 at www.corpun.com
The Oklahoman, Oklahoma City, 19 December 1982
To Spank or Not to Spank, That Is the Question
By Diane Hust
It is against the law for a prison guard to physically punish an inmate.
Mental institutions have strict rules forbidding staff members to physically punish a resident.
It is not against the law for a teacher to physically punish a child.
Sharron Masterson of Oklahoma City thinks students should have at least the same rights as criminals. To that end, she is organizing a statewide group whose aim will be the abolition of corporal punishment in Oklahoma's schools.
But many educators maintain that corporal punishment usually in the form of spanking is only one discipline option, and one that it is not abused by the schools. It is, they say, used only as a last resort and only on students that they think it might help.
The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that parents have no constitutional right to prevent their child from being spanked at school.
So, the debate pits those on opposite end of the punishment issue against one another: parent vs. school, student vs. school, parent vs. child and even, educator vs. educator.
"I feel such punishment is inappropriate," Masterson said.
"I don't see physical punishment as viable. It fulfills only short-term goals. You should want discipline to be for long-term goals."
Masterson, a parent, admits she has spanked her own children.
"But I know why I do it. It was because I was temporarily frustrated: I do it out of anger. But that doesn't accomplish what I want to teach my children."
She agrees that discipline is a problem in the schools. But Masterson said thinks "parents must and should take a more active part in the discipline of their child."
Yet the question of just who is the "parent" while the child in school and what rights that parent has differ depending on who is asked.
Oklahoma law gives teachers the right to act as the child's parent during the school day, which Karen Ponder says gives teachers the right to discipline a child, including spanking. Ponder is the president of the Oklahoma City United Teaching Profession, a teachers' union.
Masterson is not so sure.
Contrary to popular opinion, she said, spankings are administered inconsistently and usually to "good children."
"I've had calls about honor students getting spankings. I've had calls about getting spankings for tossing a cracker across a room."
Teacher representatives counter, saying corporal punishment in Oklahoma City is rarely used and never abusive.
"By and large, in Oklahoma City and other school districts, discipline is effectively and humanely being administered," said Dave Renfro, president of the Oklahoma City Federation of Teachers.
Ponder said many teachers have stopped paddling children for fear situations like Guy's arising. "When a child is punished, the teacher is punished also, in a certain sense, such as when a parent complains, or there is lack of administrative support."
"I don't think parents have the right to tell teachers what to teach or how to teach, but they do have the right to know what goes on in the classroom," Ponder said.
However, she supports parents' rights to forbid spanking of the child at school. She also applauds the district's policy that requires the district attempt to contact parents if their child is to be spanked.
However, Ponder thinks most patrons support schools using corporal punishment as long as it's on somebody else's child.
"I think corporal punishment is used only as a last resort," Ponder said. "Teachers try all different forms of discipline before spanking kids ... because usually, it isn't worth the hassle."
The hassle to which Ponder refers is a detailed procedure teachers and administrators must follow in meting out discipline.
Actual board policy is much more specific, but Oklahoma City students are given handbooks spelling out those policies. Some leeway for interpretation is given.
For example, middle school students do not have the right to refuse corporal punishment, said Vern Moore, director of middle schools. However, their parents do have the right to forbid the spanking of their child.
But at the high school level, a student may refuse to be spanked and choose another form of punishment, said Betty Mason-Goodwin, director of high schools. If a student chooses to be paddled, administrators must make an attempt to call the parents.
The policy also calls for corporal punishment to be "reasonable" and to not "cause bodily injury."
Mason-Goodwin said the "reasonable" stipulation refers to having the swats match the crime.
"For instance, giving 20 swats is not reasonable, because if the student has done something that bad, a spanking is not going to help," she said.
Also, several swats for a minor infraction, such as tardiness, would also be considered unreasonable, Mason-Goodwin said.
"Students who do a lot of infractions are not the youngsters who get corporal punishment," she said. "The youngsters who are slipping a little in their behavior, and their parents feel a couple of swats would help, are the ones who are spanked.
"With the hard-core misbehavers, it's a waste of time to spank them," she said.
Administrators usually choose suspension or in-house detention as an effective way to discipline that type of student, she said.
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