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School CP - May 2002

WKRN Nashville, Tennessee, 17 May 2002

Girl Left With Bruises After Principal Administers Punishment

Reporter: Karen Brady

A parent shared some pictures with News 2 which she said shows serious bruises her daughter received after being disciplined at school.

Connie Buttrey pointed out marks on her daughter's leg. She's only 8 years old.

"That's the bruises that hung around for awhile."

Connie said she received them as punishment from her elementary school principal at Centerville Intermediate.

"I called the principal the next day, and she admitted that she gave her two swats with some kind of strap. None of them think there's anything wrong with it, but I do."

"I talked with our SRO and Department of Children Services, and they sent a letter," said Jerry Burlison, School Superintendent.

Hickman County's superintendent of schools said the disciplinary action was investigated, and while he wouldn't talk specifically about the pictures, he did say the investigation showed no wrong-doing on the part of the principal. Burlison also pointed out, Connie signed a form at the beginning of the school year giving permission to the school to use corporal punishment.

"It's a last resort. I don't know any of our six principals that enjoy paddling a child."

In 1992, Hickman County schools abolished corporal punishment, but then two years later, it was brought back in grades K-8 at the parents' request.

"We're a rural community. [It's part of] the old tradition."

"I'm not against spanking kids if they need a spanking, because I've done it myself, like a hand print, but it goes away," Connie said. "This is extreme. I hope nobody else's kids look like that after a paddling, and if they have, I don't know why they haven't said anything about it!"

The superintendent said as far as the district is concerned, this situation is over. As for Connie, she's talking with an attorney about the possibility of legal action.

News 2 at 4:30

All content Copyright 2000 - 2002 WorldNow and WKRN.

Detroit News, Michigan, 20 May 2002

Schools rethink policy on corporal punishment

Pennsylvania may ban force, citing impact on students

By Maryclaire Dale
Associated Press

PHILADELPHIA -- Julie Bailey doesn't oppose spanking. But she objected when she heard that her learning-disabled stepson had allegedly been slapped on the head by a teacher.

"I don't hit my son in the head, and I don't feel anybody else should," said Bailey, 26, who lives in rural Sugar Grove, a few miles from the New York state line.

Bailey said the 12-year-old, who takes Ritalin for attention deficit disorder, and another boy were struck by a Sugar Grove Elementary music teacher because they wouldn't stop sliding a chair across a floor.

Corporal punishment is permitted in public schools in 23 states, including Pennsylvania. Most leave the decision up to local officials.

But a committee of the Pennsylvania Board of Education recommended last Wednesday that physical force by school staff be banned, except in self-defense or to restrain a student. The committee will have public hearings in June before the full school board votes and sends its plan to the Legislature.

"You can't do it to dogs, or pigs, or you'd get charged with cruelty to animals. You can't do it to spouses, you can't do it in the military anymore. Children are really the only unprotected class," said psychologist Robert Fathman of Dublin, Ohio. He founded the National Coalition to Abolish Corporal Punishment in Schools after his daughter was paddled 15 years ago.

Fathman said depression, anxiety, bed-wetting and low self-esteem can follow corporal punishment, especially if it's done in front of other children.

"Children's grades often go down, because if you're anxious you can't concentrate," Fathman said. "Middle school kids in eighth grade get it the most. Learning-disabled kids get hit more often than kids who are not learning disabled, which is especially horrifying."

For 1997-98, the most recent time for which data is available, U.S. public schools reported 365,000 incidents of corporal punishment, down from 1.5 million in 1976, according to data from the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights.

Liability issues and changing attitudes toward spanking and paddling are among the reasons for the decline.

"Any district that does (use it) needs to be aware of the enormous consequences that could be involved in terms of criminal or civil liability," said Wythe Keever, a spokesman for the Pennsylvania State Education Association.

U.S. courts have never banned corporal punishment in public schools, but six federal appellate circuits have said extreme force should not be used. The 11th Circuit, writing in a Georgia case that involved a student who allegedly lost an eye at the hands of a coach, said students should be free from corporal punishment that is "intentional, excessive, and creates a foreseeable risk of serious injury."

The 1997-98 data collected by the U.S. Department of Education said Mississippi had the highest per-capita rate with more than one incident for every 10 students. In Pennsylvania, 90 students were struck, a rate of less than one-tenth of 1 percent.

"I think the notion that you can beat a child into a model-student mode is essentially outdated by today's educational standards," said Greta Durr, a research analyst with the National Conference of State Legislatures in Denver.

Anti-paddling advocates in Pennsylvania, Delaware, Wyoming and Colorado hope to see the practice outlawed in the next year or two.

But in southern Ohio's rural Western Brown Local School District -- with 3,370 children -- a growing number of parents are giving permission for corporal punishment.

"I'd say it's probably increased since we have talked about it, and discussed it, and given the option to parents," Superintendent Michael Wells said.

"We feel that each individual child responds to different methods of discipline in different ways. Some children, all you have to do is speak to them. ... Some children, corporal punishment takes care of it."

In Warren County, where Bailey's stepson, Zachary, was allegedly slapped, officials put away the paddle years ago and the part-time music teacher who allegedly struck him was disciplined, although she remains on the job, Assistant Superintendent Hugh Dwyer said.

Since that day, Bailey has been attending her son's weekly music class.

"Since this happened, his attitude has been totally different. He's been more agitated," Bailey said. "He was embarrassed. He was very embarrassed."

Tuscaloosa News, Alabama, 28 May 2002

Parents sue over paddling

By Stephanie Hoops
Staff Writer

In the first challenge to the county school system's corporal punishment policy, a federal lawsuit has been filed against the Tuscaloosa County Board of Education by the parents of a student who was paddled at Collins-Riverside Middle School in Northport.

The suit asks the court to order the school board to change its corporal punishment policy or to train its principals and faculty members to implement punishment without injuring children.

The suit, filed in U.S. District Court in Birmingham, contends that the policy is not administered consistently throughout the system and needs to be fixed or enforced differently.

Ronald and Rebecca Hebert, the parents of eighth-grader Ryan Hebert, filed the suit May 15, three months after their son stopped seeing a doctor for injuries they allege were inflicted by a teacher.

According to the lawsuit, Mike Griffin, a physical education teacher, paddled Ryan out of anger and used excessive force in violation of his civil rights under the U.S. Constitution. The suit also alleges assault, battery, negligence and failure to act on the part of school officials.

The suit further claims that Griffin violated the board's policy by paddling Ryan in front of another student without a teacher present, not providing them with a written explanation and paddling out of anger.

Named as defendants in the lawsuit are the school board; the school's principal, Glenn Taylor; and physical education teachers Griffin and Jimmy Brittain. Griffin is also Ryan's football coach. All the defendants directed questions about the lawsuit to the board's attorney, Ray Ward.

Copyright 2002 The Tuscaloosa News

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