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The Dallas Morning News, 8 December 1999
2 trustees question proposal to end corporal punishment
By Frank Trejo / The Dallas Morning News
A proposal to do away with corporal punishment in Dallas public schools drew sharp criticism Tuesday from two school board members concerned that a valuable discipline tool could be lost.
"Most of the teachers I've spoken with say they wish they had more discipline in the schools," trustee Ron Price said. "How can we justify removing one of the tools of last resort?"
District officials who presented the proposal to trustees during an education committee meeting said the change in policy would be in line with recommendations from a multitude of national authorities. The proposal is expected to be considered by the full board next week.
Dr. Al Sullivan, assistant superintendent for student development and advocacy services, said numerous scientific and medical organizations have expressed reservations about the use of corporal punishment.
Dr. Sullivan told board members that recent incidents of school violence across the country have called attention to the need for more effective ways of dealing with discipline problems.
"This school district has been a leader in terms of psychological and psychiatric issues, and this is an attempt to continue that trend," he said. "Teachers and principals have other alternatives to deal with discipline problems."
Under Dallas Independent School District policy, corporal punishment is allowed only after other measures have been tried or "the conduct of a student is of such extreme nature that corporal punishment is the only reasonable form of discipline under the circumstances."
The policy calls for such punishment to be administered, for the most part, only by a principal, assistant principal or counselor. A teacher may also administer corporal punishment, but only with the consent of the principal and written permission from the student's parents.
School board President Roxan Staff said she wholeheartedly supports the effort to prohibit corporal punishment.
"You're not going to find any scientific support that striking a child in any shape or form is therapeutic," she said.
Trustee Hollis Brashear expressed concern that district administrators had not done enough research before bringing the proposal to the board.
"I like to see the facts, not just good, warm feelings," he said.
Mr. Brashear said he was surprised there had not been more public discussion about the measure.
He asked administrators for the number of corporal punishment incidents in the last year and also wanted other discipline alternatives spelled out.
Board member George Williams said he agreed with the principle of corporal punishment but also recognized legal realities.
"To me, it's the legal issues," he said. "I think we have to change with the times."
But Mr. Price insisted that if the threat of corporal punishment is removed, "that gives a child the green light to do whatever he wants to do."
Columbus Dispatch, Ohio, 15 December 1999
Chillicothe school board bans paddling on a 4-1 vote
By Bob Dreitzler
CHILLICOTHE, Ohio -- With paddling now banned in Chillicothe, 40 of Ohio's 611 public school districts still permit corporal punishment.
Those still allowing it include the six local districts surrounding Chillicothe in rural Ross County.
The Chillicothe Board of Education voted 4-1 Monday night to abolish corporal punishment in the city of about 22,000 residents 45 miles south of Columbus.
The policy change was pushed by Gus Comstock, a two-year board member. "Hitting somebody with a physical object just doesn't make good sense to me," Comstock said yesterday. "There is no other institution where we allow someone to hit someone else with an object. It just is not good public policy to allow it."
The ban was opposed by Ron Bettin, a 12-year board member who said the school board should not give up any options allowed by law.
"There are too many laws that tie the hands of the schools," Bettin said. "As long as the law permits corporal punishment, we should retain that right.
"I think the more options an education system has, the better able it is to serve the community and the students."
Some of the district's administrators wanted to keep the paddling option, Bettin said. "There are principals who believe in it," he said. He asked that the board meet with principals to discuss the issue, but the meeting never took place, he said.
Superintendent Dennis Leone said in his 19 years as a school administrator, Chillicothe was the first place he worked that allowed corporal punishment.
Use of paddling was not consistent within the district, Leone said.
"Half the principals did not use it," he said. Of those who did, some would require parental consent in writing and some just notified parents over the phone.
"I have the same concern a lot of administrators do about legal liability," Leone said. "Our legal counsel gets nervous about these things, too."
When the school board last discussed its corporal-punishment policy two years ago, the board voted 5-0 to retain paddling, Bettin said.
A 1993 change in state law banned corporal punishment unless local districts took steps to retain it. A task force that examined the issue in Chillicothe recommended in 1994 that the district retain the option to paddle.
Since 1994, the use of paddling has decreased each year as alternative forms of discipline and conflict resolution have come into use, said Joyce Atwood, assistant superintendent of Chillicothe schools.
Last year, 15 elementary- and middle-school students received paddlings, Atwood said. The paddle has not been used at the high school for several years, she said.
The Chillicothe district has about 3,800 students attending six elementary schools, two middle schools and a high school.
Comstock, who also serves as the city's economic-development director, said he views the policy change as a forward-thinking move for the community.
"I think as a board we are struggling with some issues to bring Chillicothe into the progressive fold," he said.
The quality of local schools is a top consideration of business and industries that are interested in moving into a community, Comstock said.
"I don't think paddling kids in our schools would make or break a deal, but I know the question has been asked of principals by industries that were looking at the city."
Copyright © 1999, The Columbus Dispatch
Mobile Register, Alabama, 16 December 1999
You may speak your mind on anything you wish. Because of the large number of calls we receive, we cannot publish all the comments.
Hold parents responsible
I offer congratulations to the police for arresting the six vandals who damaged the buses. Now I think they should go after the parents for neglect and allowing children that age to roam the streets and do that kind of thing. I hope the district attorney should sock it to them. I am tired for paying for parents who are doing nothing to try and rear their children.
Sad that kids were not watched
We live in a sad world where children the ages of these young children who destroyed the school buses can disappear for a long enough period of time to do the damage that they did and nobody wondered where they were. Their parents weren't looking out for them. Nobody heard anything. Nobody saw anything. It's sad. It's very sad.
Use bare hands to moderate force
I live in Baldwin County, but a problem has come to my attention that I think affects all of us. I just watched the news about the backside of a child who had been paddled two days earlier. The bruising of this small child was frightening. I think corporal punishment is a poor way to teach self-discipline. I would suggest that using a wooden paddle leads to excessive force. I would also suggest that a bare hand should be used when spanking children. That way if excessive force is used the bare hand also feels it.
Parents should be involved
This is in reference to the teachers paddling in Mobile County. I'm 58 years old, and when I attended Barton Academy and Murphy and Monroe High in the mid 50s, we got paddled. You had to go to the restroom to cool your rear-end off and sometimes your parents would be sitting there with you. We have to punish the kids to stop what's going on. The parents should be a party to it. Maybe if they directed them at home, we wouldn't have all the problems in schools.
© 1999 Mobile Register. Used with permission
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