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School CP - May 1987
The Journal, Flint, MI, 1 May 1987
Bill would ban school punishment
By Mark Hornbeck
LANSING -- Ten students in public school classroom across Michigan are paddled, rapped or spanked by a teacher every hour during the school day.
These statistics and other concerns are prompting some educators and lawmakers to renew a call to spare the rod in state schools.
"We can't hit people in mental institutions, we can't hit our prisoners, but public employees can hit our children in school ... it just doesn't make sense," said Sen. Lana S., Pollack, D-Ann Arbor.
Pollack has introduced legislation to ban corporal punishment in schools. Her bill will get a hearing in the Senate Education Committee next month.
The Civil Rights Office of the U.S. Department of Education projects there were 10,749 disciplinary actions against students involving corporal punishment in the state in 1984. That report was based on a survey of 83 of Michigan's 525 school districts.
Since most public schools hold class 1,080 hours a year, that averages 10 such incidents an hour statewide.
The report also indicates less than 1 per cent of Michigan students are victims of corporal punishment. That percentage ranks Michigan 26th among the 50 states.
A separate study by the National Coalition of Advocates for Students ranked Flint first and placed Bendle, Owosso, Lake Fenton and Flushing in the top 10 for corporal punishment.
Michigan has few restrictions on the practice, although a number of local districts have banned corporal punishment. The state school code says teachers may use "reasonable physical force" to maintain discipline.
The code also protects school employees who use corporal punishment from civil action "except in case of gross abuse and disregard for the health and safety of the pupil."
Pollack's bill would prohibit corporal punishment but would permit teachers to use "reasonable physical restraint" when trying to protect themselves or to wrest a weapon away from a student.
Houston Chronicle, Texas, 1 May 1987
School officials asked for explanation in wake of paddling complaint
By Cathy Gordon
CONROE - The superintendent of Conroe schools has asked Neal Knox Junior High officials to explain their disciplinary methods after a mother complained that her son was spanked with a wooden paddle for dropping grade points.
Superintendent Richard Griffin said he has requested a report from the school to determine if corporal punishment was administered to students because of failing grades, a policy not condoned by the district.
Thomas Randle, the junior high principal, said 63 seventh-grade male students in an athletics class - including his son - were given the option Tuesday of being "popped" with a wooden board or running 100 yards on all fours - using their hands and feet - as punishment for unsatisfactory conduct.
Fifty students chose one pop with the paddle; 13 chose the "bear crawls." School officials said only students receiving "unsatisfactory" or "needs improvement" marks are punished by the paddling or bear crawls.
But Kristi Kitchens said her son Scott, 13, was punished for receiving an N on his report card, indicating he had dropped eight grade points in a science class from the previous six-week period.
Her son chose one pop with the wooden paddle, she said, "because he said kids said rather than have blisters on their hands, it's better to take five seconds of stinging from the paddle."
She said the paddling was against her written orders to the school district, but school officials said they could find no such notation in her son's student file.
"The information I got from my son's teacher three weeks ago was that he was missing an assignment for a major grade and unless he turned it in, his grade would drop substantially," said Kitchens. "They're punishing these kids in athletics class for something totally unrelated that should be dealt with in the other class."
Another parent, Lynn Bean, said his stepson Sheldon Black, 14, did 400 yards of bear crawls despite having a cast taken off his arm just two weeks ago. He said he was punished for failing a history course and making a poor grade in conduct.
Griffin said he will take swift action to end the disciplinary procedure if an investigation shows corporal punishment has been used on students whose grades are slipping.
"Corporal punishment is permitted in the school district as one of a variety of techniques, but we do recommend it be used as a last resort. We never would condone it as a way to punish students for failing courses."
Griffin said school guidelines dictating the use of corporal punishment are as follows: That other means of discipline are exhausted first%3B that the paddling be done in front of a professional witness and out of other students' view with an effort made to contact the child's parents%3B and that the punishment fit the discipline problem.
Knox officials said two teachers witnessed the students' paddlings, which were done individually.
Griffin said he could not comment on whether the "pops and bear crawls" form of punishment fit school guidelines until reviewing the junior high officials' report.
Houston Chronicle, Texas, 6 May 1987
Woodlands junior high changes 'pops' policy
By Cathy Gordon
THE WOODLANDS - Neal Knox Junior High School officials are modifying their "pops or bear crawl" disciplinary policy, allowing paddling only as a last resort and after telephoning parents for permission.
School officials, criticized last week by some parents for giving seventh-grade male students the choice of being paddled or crawling on their hands and feet the length of a football field, said the new policy will begin in the fall term.
The option of punishment was given to 63 male students in a seventh-grade athletics class last Tuesday as discipline for poor conduct marks on their six-week report cards, Principal Thomas Randle said.
He said it is uncertain if the school will continue using the "bear crawls" to discipline students.
Randle said the new policy allows coaches to use corporal punishment as a last resort on students who misbehave in their athletics class. But it prohibits coaches from using the practice to discipline students for poor conduct marks in other academic classes.
"We're going to maintain control here at Knox Junior High School," Randle said. "When you deal with middle school preadolescents, especially boys in the spring of the year, the adrenaline, everything begins to take affect. I don't know what they do at home, but we have to have a way to handle them here. We have to come up with a way to support the rest of the school."
Conroe schools Superintendent Richard Griffin had asked Randle to explain the school's disciplinary methods after a mother complained that her son was spanked with a wooden paddle for dropping grade points.
Woodlands resident Kristi Kitchens said her son, Scott, 13, was punished for receiving an N on his report card, indicting he had dropped eight grade points in a science class. She said she had received no complaints from the school about her son's conduct and had informed officials that she was against corporal punishment.
Randle said an investigation of the school's disciplinary actions showed students received the punishment only for poor conduct marks, not for failing grades.
Randle said Kitchens' son had been disciplined for talking in class. "The teacher had talked to him about his attitude and even moved his desk to keep him from talking," Randle said. "He wasn't punished for his grade.
"I've talked to coaches and they will not give pops anymore for conduct grades on report cards," he said. "And they will also always call parents when there is an incident that calls for a pop. They didn't telephone parents last time. All we're trying to do is keep some order at the school."
Randle said school officials have not had to consider such discipline methods for girls "because just talking to them usually settles the problems."
Griffin said he is satisfied with Randle's investigation. "I think it was a thorough investigation and what needs to be changed will be changed," Griffin said.
Atlanta Journal, Georgia, 7 May 1987
Lawsuit claims paddling of boy was too severe
Toombs parents fight school policy in court By Jane O. Hansen
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