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School CP - February 1998

The Samoa News, 15 February 1998

Spankings at American Samoa High School Anger Some Parents

PAGO PAGO, American Samoa (February 15, 1998 -- Samoa News/ Ioane) -- The spanking of students at Samoana High School, as part of a new policy to discipline tardy students, has angered a number of parents including American Samoa's Lieutenant Governor, Togiola Tulafono.

The Lieutenant Governor, The Samoa News reports, has called on school authorities to express his disappointment with the corporal punishment policy.

The mother of one student said she is considering legal action against the high school. "It's absolutely outrageous," she said. "I'm not against discipline, because children need discipline, but to spank them with a stick is ridiculous."

Under the new policy, students who arrive late to school have a choice of either getting spanked or having their parents come to the school to discuss the reasons for their children's tardiness with counselors or the principal.

Last week, about 80 students chose spanking over discussion.

Samoana High School Counselor Simon Mageo said the corporal punishment policy was approved by Department of Education Director Lalolulu Tagoilelagi before the school implemented it.

He said parents who had attended Parent Teacher Association (PTA) meetings were aware of the policy, because it was discussed at those meetings.

Mageo said Samoana High has an "open door policy," which allows parents and students who are uncomfortable with the school's rules and regulations to transfer to another public school.

"We don't abuse our students," Mageo said. "There is a difference between disciplinary measures and abuse. Enforcing the rule that students be on time for the school assembly is a disciplinary measure."

He said, as a counselor, he is not discouraged by the complaints.

"With an enrollment of 900 students, we have our work cut out for us. "We welcome constructive criticism and we're also open to suggestions on how to improve our disciplinary measures."

blob Follow-up: 8 March 1998: American Samoa bans public school corporal punishment

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