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School CP - November 2010

Corpun file 22628


The Clarion-Ledger, Jackson, Mississippi, 1 November 2010

Coach admits paddling students

Murrah's Dorsey says he was trying to "save" young men

By Marquita Brown


Murrah High School boys basketball coach Marlon Dorsey, under fire for allegedly whipping players with a weightlifting belt as a form of punishment, acknowledges disciplining students.

But Dorsey, who met with a Clarion-Ledger reporter on Sunday, wouldn't discuss specifics. Instead, he provided a letter explaining why he "paddled" students and apologizing.

"I took it upon myself to save these young men from the destruction of self and what society has accepted and become silent to the issues our students are facing on a daily basis," the letter states. "I am deeply remorseful of my actions to help our students."

The letter, addressed to parents and others, said the punishment was issued for a variety of reasons, including disrespecting teachers, stealing cell phones, leaving campus without permission, being late for class and not following the dress code.

Corporal punishment has been banned in Jackson Public Schools since 1991. Violation of the JPS corporal policy is punishable by disciplinary action up to suspension without pay and termination.

Dorsey acknowledges he has been suspended with pay. He expects a decision today about his future with the school, where he is in his first year as coach and was an assistant coach last year. The team begins its season on Saturday at home against Greenville.

Dorsey has the support of some parents, including Gary Love.

"He has made them go to study hall, makes them turn in their homework and makes them give weekly reports of their school work," said Love, whose son plays for the Mustangs. "It's been all positive with one bad incident. He made a huge mistake, but he is human.

"It was poor judgment, but he is an outstanding person, determined and driven to make those kids better. I think we all need to step back and give him his job back."

Other parents say they're disappointed and angry. They say some of the players don't want Dorsey to go.

"It's kind of tough," said Jason Hubbard Sr., who heads the booster club. "Coach Dorsey did a lot of things to help our kids. We saw that in practice. Their work ethic was getting better in basketball. All around, he was grooming them."

But Dorsey's actions threw a wrench into those efforts, Hubbard said. He saw players, including his son, get hit.

"It was very forceful," Hubbard said. "It wasn't like a spanking, it was a whipping. There's a difference."

In the past, Murrah boys basketball coaches punished players by having them run or do push-ups, said Hubbard, whose older son played at Murrah and is now a sophomore at Mississippi State University.

"It was nothing physical, nothing. Nowhere near it, and I know that for a fact," he said.

Hailicia Francis, whose son, Daniel, is a senior on the team, said there has been psychological abuse of the players as well as physical. The players were too afraid to speak out because of fear they would not be allowed to play, she said.

The situation is an extra burden on her son, who already survived an accident last year in which one of his teammates died and another was seriously injured, Francis said.

Francis said her son was too intimated to tell either of his parents what was going on.

Francis said her son had been whipped once with the belt, which weighs about 5 to 10 pounds, and he told Dorsey not to hit him again. Francis said she and her husband, Michael, don't spank their children.

"What hurts me so bad is you have intimidated my child so bad that he couldn't come to either one of us ... I entrusted this man with my child, and this is what you do to me," she said.

The Jackson school board has not discussed the matter.

The superintendent handles the district's day-to-day operations, said board President Kisiah Nolan. The board will support the superintendent, she said.

"We'll never condone anything inappropriate happening to the children," Nolan said.

Most of the state's 152 school districts allow corporal punishment, but not JPS.

The reported number of incidents is dropping.

In the 2009-10 school year, there were 24,192 students involved in 46,586 incidents of corporal punishment, according to the state Department of Education. That's down from the 58,343 cases in 2008-09 and 47,727 cases in 2007-08.

Complaints about corporal punishment usually are made against districts that allow that type of discipline, said Nsombi Lambright, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Mississippi.

Complaints usually are that the punishment is too severe, she said. Some parents complain they opted out of corporal punishment and their children were beaten anyway, Lambright said.

Parents need to know the local school district's policy on corporal punishment, Lambright said.

"If they are in a school district that allows corporal punishment, they need to put in writing that they don't want their child paddled," she said.

"If they're in a district that doesn't allow corporal punishment, like Jackson, they need to file charges against the teacher or administrator that caused the abuse," she said. "And they should also file a complaint either with that principal or the superintendent of that school district."

In a case like the one in Jackson, leaders need to send a clear message that corporal punishment is not allowed, she said.

Studies have shown corporal punishment doesn't work, and most students disciplined that way are black or have special needs, Lambright said.

"My understanding from my son is that some of the kids actually chose this as one of the punishments," said Love. "It was something that they didn't have a problem with it."

Love said he hopes the situation with Dorsey comes to a peaceful conclusion.

"I know its going to be hard, but we are going to get past this," Love said.

Corpun file 22632


The Clarion-Ledger, Jackson, Mississippi, 2 November 2010

Murrah coach's return sought amid whipping claims

By Marquita Brown


Some Murrah High School basketball players and parents want to see Marlon Dorsey keep his job as coach despite recent controversy over him whipping the boys with a weightlifting belt.

At a meeting tonight in downtown Jackson, players disputed recent reports that Dorsey has whipped them since summer and that he hit them hard.

The whipping started a couple of weeks ago, said Aldarrio Alexander, a senior point guard for the Murrah Mustangs. And Dorsey did not hit them hard, he said.

The players were improving in the classroom and on the court, and people were noticing, Alexander said.

"It felt good for other people outside the gym to compliment you," he said.

On Thursday, parents met with Jackson Public Schools officials about what were then allegations of Dorsey whipping players with a weight belt -- something some parents said they witnessed.

On Sunday, Dorsey admitted to whipping the boys, but said in a statement he did so to "save these young men from the destruction of self."

Corporal punishment is not allowed in Jackson Public Schools. District policy says violation of that rule is punishable by disciplinary action such as suspension without pay and termination.

There has been no official word from JPS on Dorsey's fate.

The theme of the meeting tonight was to forgive Dorsey and not "condemn him," said Gary Love, who has a son on the team.

But another father, Joseph Horton, said he doesn't want Dorsey whipping his son.

"I don't like ... him putting his hands on my kid," Horton said.

Horton, who said he learned Friday of the allegations against Dorsey, said he will leave to the superintendent the decision of whether the embattled coach stays or goes. But he said he disciplines his son on his own.

"I just don't want an outsider putting his hand on my kid," he said.

Corpun file 22679

ABC News logo (WAPT 16 TV), Jackson, Mississippi, 9 November 2010

Attorney: Video Shows Murrah Coach Whipping Players

Parents File Lawsuit Against Coach

Player being whipped
Ross: Murrah Coach Caught On Tape Whipping Players

JACKSON, Miss. -- Some parents of Murrah High School basketball players have filed a lawsuit against Coach Marlon Dorsey, who they said whipped their sons with a weight belt.

Jason Hubbard said he reported Dorsey to Jackson Public Schools officials for whipping his son as punishment for not performing plays properly. Now he and another family are suing Dorsey -- along with Murrah High School and the school district -- for what they claim to be physical and emotional harm to their sons.

In a written statement issued early this month, Dorsey apologized to Murrah High School, parents and the school district.

"I took it upon myself to save these young men from the destruction of self and what society has accepted and become silent to," Dorsey said.

In the statement, Dorsey said the students were disrespecting teachers, administrators and other students by stealing cell phones, leaving campus without permission and disrupting classroom teaching time.

Attorney Lisa Ross said the parents filed the lawsuit because the school district allowed Dorsey to sully the students' names. They also want to prevent the whippings from happening again.

"Coaches won't be allowed to bully students. This practice of the coach whipping the boys was so well known that when the boys were on their way to practice, they would be teased by girls, telling them to, 'Get ready for their whippings,'" Ross said. "It's not about money. It's about justice. It's about doing the right thing. It's about protecting the rights of these boys who were violated."

Ross released video on Tuesday that she said shows Dorsey using a weight belt to whip a basketball player during practice.

According to parents of Murrah High School students, Dorsey will be returning to school in a few days after a 25 day suspension is up.

The school district refused to comment to 16 WAPT News about the investigation, the lawsuit, or the punishment the parents said Dorsey received. JPS officials would not say if or when Dorsey would be back at the school.

blob Follow-up: 15 November 2010 - Corporal punishment called routine in embattled coach's past


(1) Seven-minute clip, "Caught on Tape: Mississippi Coach Caught Whipping High School Student", from ABC Good Morning America, 12 Nov 2010. Detailed information about the above case, views of those for and against the coach, plus live interview down the line from Jackson MS with a parent who witnessed the event (not, however, the parent of one of the students whipped) and the lawyer who is suing the school. Note that the scene of the "whipping" itself is looped repeatedly, giving the impression that the punishment was far more severe than it actually was. In fact the clip shows only three swats (see second clip below).


This video clip is not currently available.

IMPORTANT: Copyright in this video material rests with the original copyright holders. This brief excerpt is reproduced under the "fair use" doctrine EXTERNAL LINK: opens in new window for private, non-profit, historical research and education purposes only. It must not be redistributed or republished in any commercial context.

(2) The original six-second clip of just the whipping itself. This gives a much clearer view than the version shown on TV. The boy is bending over for punishment across the buttocks, with his hands on his knees. Immediately after the three swift licks he gets up and saunters back to the game in a manner that suggests this is all fairly routine. The other players do not seem to be taking much notice. Since this clip is so short, it is shown here three times over.


This video clip is not currently available.

Corpun file 22684

ABC News logo (WHNT-TV News 19), Huntsville, Alabama, 9 November 2010

Paddling: Parent Claims Teacher Went To The Extreme

By Carrie Marchese


DEKALB COUNTY, AL -- Corporal punishment in schools has long been a hot button issue, but our WHNT NEWS 19 investigation into this particular form of discipline began after a DeKalb County mom called us for help. Melissa Lewis says her 12-year-old son Payton got a paddling in science class, but she says it's the severity of the paddling that led her to contact our station.

Payton attends Plainview Elementary and is in the seventh grade. Recently, Lewis claims her son came home from school with severe bruises and welts on his behind. Melissa Lewis said her son was upset, "Mom look at my butt and see if there is something wrong with it? He dropped his pants and I said wow what happened? He said I got paddled because I did not pass my science test."

Payton Lewis wasn't the only one. WHNT NEWS 19 learned at least three kids felt the strike of the paddle that day. Payton describes it as a day he will never forget. He said, "It felt like he was trying to touch the ceiling and when he came down... it felt like he was trying to smack me through the wall."

And it was even harder for Melissa Lewis to swallow. She claims she had the same teacher many years before and said, "He was out of control then and he's out of control now." Lewis calls it a disturbing pattern and her frustration is shared by many. WHNT NEWS 19 spoke to several parents, who all say they have dealt with this particular teacher and his methods of discipline.

WHNT NEWS 19 took Lewis' concerns to Plainview Elementary Principal Ronald Bell. We asked Bell if there were any specific rules surrounding the severity of paddling and what he considers excessive. He couldn't give us a definitive answer but did say teachers need to be mindful when using physical force. Bell said, "Every time you draw back a paddle that is something that needs to be on the mind of the teacher that's doing the paddling."

WHNT NEWS 19 called the DeKalb County Superintendent's office more than a dozen times to ask about the rules and regulations surrounding corporal punishment. They refused to answer our questions but did say they follow Alabama state laws. We called the Alabama Department of Education and officials told WHNT NEWS 19 that corporal punishment "is authorized under the policies and guidelines developed by the local board of education."

Melissa Lewis says nowhere in the county handbook does it state that a child can be disciplined for anything academic related. WHNT NEWS 19 also studied the handbook and learned Lewis was right. The handbook does list some violations, but academics are not one of them. Furthermore, the handbook says corporal punishment should only be administered with "moderate use of physical force" and only in order to "maintain discipline" and "enforce school rules."

Principal Bell says all kids should always be given alternatives to paddling such as in-school suspension. But Payton says he never received that alternative. Payton said, "He just lectured us about how his dad beat him and said that's what I am going to do to you."

Perhaps all this could have been solved if Melissa opted to sign a "no paddle list." Several schools across the country are giving the power back to the parents. But after doing some digging, WHNT NEWS 19 learned no such option exists in DeKalb County.

Principal Bell says Plainview Schools have used corporal punishment less and less each year. Since Payton's paddling, the school has issued a letter to faculty discouraging paddling for the time being and encouraging more communication with parents. "I really think that at some point in time Alabama will take a serious look at outlawing corporal punishment," said Bell.

This is welcomed news for Lewis and her son Payton. Lewis says she never had a problem with corporal punishment until now and knowing the paddle is out of the teachers hands gives her a sense of peace. She adds, "I have had many kids and parents tell me he is a total different person without that paddle in his hand, that he is a better teacher and he is nice to them."

And as it turns out, Payton Lewis is hearing the same thing, only his feedback is from his fellow classmates. "I think I have helped a lot of kids in the future from bruises like mine, it is outrageous... no one needs to hit anyone that hard," said Payton.

Lewis filed a police report and her case was investigated by the DeKalb County Sheriff's Department. It is up to the DeKalb County District Attorney's office to decide whether to press criminal charges.

Copyright © 2010, WHNT-TV

Corpun file 22694


The Clarion-Ledger, Jackson, Mississippi, 15 November 2010

Corporal punishment called routine in embattled coach's past

By Marquita Brown


When he allegedly whipped his basketball players, coach Marlon Dorsey may have been copying what he experienced as a player at Broad Street High School in Shelby about 20 years ago.

That's according to Marilyn Brooks-Thomas, who played basketball at Broad Street and said her brother was good friends with Dorsey, who was known then as "Sleepy." There is a long history of coaches at the Bolivar County school using corporal punishment on student athletes, she said.

When she and other players messed up a play or missed a lay up, they were paddled with a 2-by-2-inch board, Brooks-Thomas said.

The coach "would swat you on your buttocks," she said. "He hit us like we were men."

In late October, Dorsey was put on leave with pay amid accusations he whipped players with a weightlifting belt although corporal punishment has been banned in Jackson Public Schools since 1991. He later released a statement admitting he whipped the players, but said he did so to save them.

Dorsey has given no other statements, but the situation has reignited debate over corporal punishment -- a practice that still is prevalent in Mississippi -- and the discipline of student athletes.

In Mississippi, most of the 152 school districts allow corporal punishment. The use of corporal punishment "should be guided by clearly defined policies," state Superintendent of Education Tom Burnham said in a statement. "Even in the presence of said policies, all school personnel have a professional and moral responsibility to use good judgment and work collaboratively with parents regarding disciplinary strategies and actions that will be used with children."

There are no immediate plans for the state Board of Education to look at corporal punishment, President Charles McClelland said. The decision on whether to allow corporal punishment is best made at the local level, he said.

Corporal punishment is allowed in North Bolivar County schools, which includes Broad Street High.

As a freshman basketball player, Dorsey stood out and was a top scorer, said Isaiah Peterson Sr., his former coach.

"He was a great kid, did a great job," Peterson said. Dorsey was very athletic and knew the game well, he said.

In high school, Dorsey "played tough, played hard all the time," he said.

After high school, Dorsey signed with Mississippi State University and played there for one year before going to a junior college in Oklahoma and later playing for Oklahoma State University, Peterson said.

Peterson, who is now retired, said he was "shocked" and "disappointed" when he heard about the recent situation.

In the past, disciplining student athletes involved making them run or do pushups, as well as paddling, Peterson said. He said the paddling was "not to the extreme."

Times have changed, he said. "Things that I did when I was coach back years ago, I wouldn't even attempt now," Peterson said.

Coaches should take an intellectual approach to disciplining students, said Hill Williams, director of the Jackson State University sports science program and former chairman of the health and physical education department. Using corporal punishment with student athletes is not recommended, he said.

"In this day and time, we're going to have to appeal to our young men and women intellectually as opposed to trying to deal with fear and things of that nature," Williams said.

The students need to be valued as human beings, he said.

"And contrary to what people think, student athletes are intelligent and they can comprehend, they can analyze, they can synthesize and they can make good decisions if given an opportunity."

Some say Dorsey was attempting to impart discipline and make his players more well-rounded.

Some Murrah parents and basketball players have appealed for Dorsey to keep his job.

At a meeting earlier this month, one basketball player said Dorsey was the only father figure he has known. Another said players were getting complimented on the positive changes they were making.

Patrick Friday, who graduated from Murrah in 2009 and was a member of the basketball team, said he disagrees with Dorsey's use of corporal punishment but that he has seen positive changes in his brother, who is a sophomore.

Discipline has been a problem with the team in recent years, Friday said. Players "did what they wanted to do," he said.

Some players would leave the gym when they weren't supposed to and use their cell phones during practice, said Friday, who is now a sophomore at Hinds Community College in Raymond.

What is not being talked about is what current players were doing to get disciplined, he said.

"If you know Coach Dorsey has a history of being extreme, of being tough, why would you put yourself in that situation?" Friday asked. Friday said his brother has not been whipped by Dorsey.

"When it comes to sports in general, but especially basketball, self-discipline plays such a huge role," Friday said. "There's not going to be someone there holding your hand 24/7."

Examples of self-disciplined professional players from Mississippi include Murrah alumnus Mo Williams and former Lanier star Monta Ellis, Friday said. Their coaches -- Orsmond Jordan and Thomas Billups -- had a history of being tough and no-nonsense, he said. The same is true for former Murrah girls basketball coach Anna Jackson, Friday said.

"In order to make the team better, and in order to achieve your goal of winning a championship, you've got to do what you have to do on and off the court," Friday said.

But physical punishment can have lasting scars, Brooks-Thomas said. She said there was an atmosphere of secrecy and of mental intimidation at Broad Street High.

She said when coaches paddled her and her teammates, they would say they "were beating us to make us good, to make us a woman or a man."

The student athletes were told the discipline was a form of love, and that the team is a family.

Brooks-Thomas played basketball at the University of Mississippi from 1982-85, said she went to college expecting her coaches to whip her if she messed up. She said she initially struggled when that didn't happen.

"You develop a mindset that you're going to always be beat to play," she said.

blob Follow-up: 21 December 2010 - Coach suspended for whipping players returns

Corpun file 22695

The Advocate, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, 19 November 2010

School dress, punishment addressed

By Koran Addo
Advocate Westside bureau


NEW ROADS -- The Pointe Coupee School Board amended its existing policies Thursday night to address students wearing sagging pants on campus and the use of corporal punishment in schools.

The amended corporal punishment policy says that students and parents must be informed of the policy at the beginning of each school year.

Parents then have the choice of whether or not to consent to having their misbehaving children paddled on the buttocks, Superintendent Linda D'Amico said.

If a parent doesn't give consent, school administrators must attempt to reach a child's parents by phone before a student may be paddled for egregious disciplinary infractions, D'Amico said.

Children whose parents do not grant permission for paddling will be subject to other forms of discipline such as suspension from school, D'Amico said.

School Board President Chad Aguillard supported the superintendent's stance on paddling, saying he feels the new policy protects all parties involved when corporal punishment is administered.

The amended policy further states that paddling can be carried out by administrators and not teachers, it must be done in private and cannot be administered to the school system's kindergarten students and students in the Head Start early learning program.

On the matter of sagging pants, the board decided that students wearing low-riding pants must be warned first and then made to anchor their pants at the waist with plastic zip ties.

If the problems reoccur, students would be subject to increased penalties ranging from counseling and parent notification to suspension.

Also under the new policy, bus drivers will be asked to note which students get on the bus with sagging pants and then turn in those offenders' names to school administrators.

Board member James Cline summed up the new policy by saying, "If your pants are not at the hip, you get the zip."

Board member Frank Aguillard agreed, saying sagging pants on campus and at school functions are an embarrassment to the entire school system.

"We're trying to send a message here," he said. "We need to prepare these kids for the future."

Copyright © 1992-2008,, WBRZ, Louisiana Broadcasting LLC and The Advocate, Capital City Press LLC, All Rights Reserved.


""Pointe Coupee board addresses school dress", 2-minute news report on the above decisions, from ABC2 WBRZ-TV Baton Rouge, Louisiana, 19 Nov 2010. Comments from parents of varying views, and an official explains why paddling is retained as a useful punishment option.


This video clip is not currently available.

IMPORTANT: Copyright in this video material rests with the original copyright holders. This brief excerpt is reproduced under the "fair use" doctrine EXTERNAL LINK: opens in new window for private, non-profit, historical research and education purposes only. It must not be redistributed or republished in any commercial context.

Corpun file 22725

NBC logo

KNWA-TV, Fayetteville, Arkansas, 24 November 2010

Corporal Punishment Complaint

By Nina Criscuolo


Being the new kid in school can come with challenges. Less than two weeks into her sixth grade year 12-year-old Chadie Chancy got into a fight. Rather than three days suspension -- she chose three swats.

According to the police report, Chadie was taken into an office with principal Michele Price and dean of students Charles Morton. Morton told her to put her hands on the desk and bend her knees. Chadie says after the first swat she regretted choosing the punishment saying to Morton, "Please stop, I would rather go to the box, I wanted to go back to I.S.S. and then they said you have two more, lets get them done."

The box, or I.S.S., is in school suspension -- but because that was no longer an option Chadie says she turned around and put her hands back on the desk.

The swats happened here at Lincoln Middle School and while the superintendent, principal, and Mr. Morton declined to talk about the incident on camera their statements in this police report give a unique perspective on what happened that day.

Principal Michele Price says Chadie did ask to stop because of the pain and was crying. While Morton believes he gave the swats fairly "without any anger or aggression". But according to the police report Chadie left school bruised and bleeding.

Chadie's parents Cindi and Chris were shocked when they saw the marks left on Chadie's body. Cindi says, "I did authorize three swats but I did not authorize a beating."

According to the Department of Human Services, physical discipline should not cause injury more serious than minor temporary marks. Chadie's parents say photos taken five days after the punishment still show bruising from the swats.

The Lincoln P. D. incident report lists Charles Morton as a suspect for third degree battery. But prosecutors decided not to move forward with the charges, a move that does not shock Stephanie Smith with the Social Services Division at Northwest Arkansas Community College.

Smith does not agree with Chadie's punishment and believes corporal punishment can be harmful, humiliating, and even confusing for children.

"If an adult hits an adult we charge it as a crime, if a kid hits a kid we punish the child somehow regardless of how that is, so why is it ok for an adult to hit a kid, it's doesn't make sense," says Smith.

And it doesn't make sense to the Chancy's, who are continuing to search for answers. Last Monday, the Chancy's stood before the school board only to be turned away.

Chris says,"I feel like the system quit somewhere along the way and you know there's still loop holes."

Lincoln school officials say they are looking into the matter... And while they do Charles Morton will continue to act as dean of students.

But after more than two months of waiting for the process to produce results, the Chancy's say their 12-year-old is still trying to overcome emotional wounds.

Copyright © 1998 - 2010 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved.

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