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School CP - March 2002

KTRK-TV, Houston, Texas, 7 March 2002

Football player paddled by teammates

By Jeff Ehling
ABC 13 Eyewitness News

"They just went and started popping me", said Yates High School sophomore Jimmy Bigham III

(3/7/02) - Swats from a paddle sent a local high school football player to the doctor's office, and now two assistant coaches may be out a job over the harsh punishment. The coaches made football players paddle their own teammate and even forced some to hit the player harder.

School officials at Yates High School say what happened on Wednesday was not only unusual, it was also unacceptable. Apparently two assistant high school football coaches paddled a high school football player, and then they made about 20 teammates do the same thing. In all the student was paddled about 30 times.

The paddling left bruises that were bad enough that Jimmy Bigham's father took him to a doctor.

Jimmy Bigham Jr/Father: "She basically said that there was bodily injury there and that she was going to call child protective services."

The paddling came from two assistant football coaches.

Jimmy Bigham III/Yates HS Sophomore: "They just went and started popping me."

About twenty players were also forced by the coaches to take part in the punishment.

Jimmy Bigham III/Yates HS Sophomore: "Some of them didn't hit me but most of them did, the majority of them did."

Bigham was hit about thirty times with a paddle, all for missing a month's worth of Yates High School football weight training.

Heather Browne/HISD Spokesperson: "This is something that was definitely very poor judgment on their part and something that not only the school but the district regrets as well."

Paddling is no longer accepted practice at HISD schools, that alone was enough to have the coaches reassigned to administrative duties, but making students take part could be the decision that gets the two assistants fired.

Heather Browne/HISD Spokesperson: "They could be facing termination of employment, again that's pending the outcome of a district investigation."

The coaches could also face criminal charges, because the district is obligated to inform the police if it feels child abuse has taken place. But Bigham's father isn't waiting on HISD. He's already been in touch with the authorities who are investigating the paddling as an assault with bodily injury.

Jimmy Bigham Jr/Father: "I don't want this to happen to anyone else's child so these men need to be removed from the district totally and any other school district."

Bigham says that when some players took light hits, the coaches came over and made them hit him with full force. These coaches have not been working at Yates very long. One's only been there about six months, the other for a year and a half. Neither of them are at Yates any more. They've been reassigned to positions where they have no contact with students at all.

Decatur Daily, Decatur, Alabama, 8 March 2002

Rutherford may conclude paddling investigation today

By Clyde Stancil
Daily Staff Writer

MOULTON -- The administrative investigation into a claim of excessive force during the paddling of a student at East Lawrence Middle School could conclude today, Superintendent Dexter Rutherford said.

Rutherford said Thursday that he hopes to talk to the child's parents and express his regrets, but he said that it appears the teacher followed board policy.

Lawrence County sheriff's investigators concluded their investigation earlier this week and determined that there was no criminal activity on the part of the teacher, Alan Couch.

The boy's parents said Couch bruised the 13-year-old with a wooden paddle. The student, who is learning disabled, was throwing clay with three other boys in a learning disabled classroom, while the teacher was testing another student.

The boy's parents said the teacher took the boys to Couch so he could administer corporal punishment.

They said Couch struck the child three times with the paddle, which caused him to bruise and have trouble sitting.

A report supplied by the child's parents showed that the boy was treated by a physician who prescribed pain medication.

The report shows the child was treated for an ear infection. The doctor also recommended the boy sit on a doughnut seat and intermittently apply ice to his buttocks, the report shows.

St. Petersburg Times, Florida, 23 March 2002

Citrus: Group rebuffs School Board suggestions

Changes in the Student Code of Conduct affecting cell phone use, drug offenses and paddling bounce back to the board to consider

By Barbara Behrendt
Times staff writer

INVERNESS -- A school district committee decided this week to reject almost all changes suggested by the School Board in the Student Code of Conduct.

Earlier this month, the board discussed such changes as allowing students to have cell phones and pagers and banning paddling as a discipline option.

The members also talked about tweaking the zero tolerance policy to encourage longer expulsions for serious drug offenses. Unable to reach a consensus on what to change, the board sent the issue to the Code of Conduct Committee for more study.

The group, composed mostly of school administrators, met Thursday and decided not to follow any of the board's suggestions.

That sends the issue back to the board, which will take it up in April. A public hearing may be set for May.

Bonnie Hardiman, director of student services, declined to detail the group's discussions, saying she wanted board members to hear directly from the staff rather than read about them in a newspaper.


In separate interviews on Friday, board members Carol Snyder, Pat Deutschman and Ginger Bryant said administrators should spell out what devices they don't want to see and consistently enforce the policy.


Another area discussed was corporal punishment, or paddling. The committee felt that it should remain as a discipline option. Snyder said Friday that she disagrees.

"I think that is a parent's right if they choose to use it, but it's a parent's responsibility," she said, adding that requiring parents to write to the school to keep their child from being paddled was wrong. The district shouldn't assume a parent's permission unless they receive a written notice from them, she said.

Deutschman said she would only agree to keep corporal punishment if she were given some compelling reason.

"I'm not supportive of corporal punishment. I've talked to some principals who say it used to be effective, but in this day and time, with lawsuits and such . . . we're trying to be extraordinarily sensitive to issues of physical and emotional abuse," she said.

According to a report by the Florida Department of Education completed in January 2001, instances of corporal punishment throughout Florida schools have declined dramatically. The number of paddlings plunged statewide from nearly 125,000 in 1985 to 11,500 during the 1999-2000 school year statewide.

In Citrus during that school year, there were 21 reported paddlings. No students were paddled during that year in Pasco, Hernando and Pinellas counties. In Levy County, 144 paddlings were recorded, 135 in Sumter, 854 in Marion County and 11 in Hillsborough.

Bryant said she sided with the committee. "I'm from the old school," she said. "I'd like having it in as an option for the principal and the parents."

Board member Patience Nave could not be reached for comment.

Copyright 2001 St. Petersburg Times. All rights reserved

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