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School CP - September 2002

masthead The Advocate, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, 18 June 2002

Discipline changes proposed

Policies on fighting, paddling targeted


An East Baton Rouge Parish School Board committee Monday recommended scrapping much of the public schools' policy of "zero tolerance" for fighting that now requires expulsion.

The committee also recommended banning the paddling of students. Paddling is allowed now only with a parent's permission.

The School Board will consider the recommendations July 27. If approved, the new rules would be part of the 2002-2003 edition of the school system's student handbook.

The proposal to change the zero-tolerance provision would let each principal decide whether to recommend students for expulsion after they are caught fighting. Only the School Board can expel a student.

A provision that requires the police to be called when a fight involves a student 14 years old and older would not be changed.

State law requires school systems to seek expulsion for all weapons and illegal drug violations, and that requirement also would not change.


The committee had much more trouble with the proposal to ban paddling, although it approved the measure in the same unanimous vote as the zero-tolerance proposal.

Now, principals, assistant principals or their designees can give a child up to five swats with a paddle, with parents' permission. But Superintendent Clayton Wilcox proposed ending the practice.

Machen said more and more parents sue after their children are paddled.

"Some overzealous folks in school employment are putting the school system in harm's way," he said. He hastened to add that most of the worrisome cases are in other school systems, but that he and Wilcox worry that they are a sign of the future here.

Parents sign waivers, but Machen said lawyers find ways around them. Also, parents who've signed them often later disavow them when they hear from their children, he said.

The suggested change stirred a lot of debate.

"As a parent, I'm begging you all not to take corporal punishment away from the school," said Vera London, president of the parish's Parent-Teacher Association. "The Bible says spare the rod, spoil the child."

Bernadette Wilkinson, also a member of the PTA, said paddling and other forms of corporal punishment are the only things that work with some students.

"You got some kids who respond to a word, and some that don't respond to anything but a strap," she said.

Smith asked Machen what the school system plans to do instead of paddling.

"Counseling," Machen answered, sparking a derisive laughter among much of the audience.

Machen said the system also hopes to better train teachers to manage their classrooms.

Smith suggested peer counseling and peer trials, in which students judge each other and mete out punishment. "They will be harder on them than the teachers," she said.

Smith had other worries.

"Can a parent go to school and discipline their child at school?" Smith asked.

"I don't see a problem with that," said Kees, the system's general counsel.

"I was told I couldn't discipline mine at school," London interjected. "They said I would have to go to the police to do that."

blob Follow-up: 28 June 2002 - Teacher applicants told to pay fee (board bans paddling)

Valdosta Daily Times, Georgia, 22 June 2002

City schools mull paddling

By Jessica Pope

VALDOSTA - Monday night, the Valdosta Board of Education will begin the process of possibly re-introducing corporal punishment into the city school system.

According to the called meeting agenda, board members are scheduled to conduct a first reading of the Lowndes County Board of Education's Corporal Punishment Policy. The county school system is one of several in the area which maintains an active corporal punishment policy.

Members of Valdosta Middle's School Council recently asked the board to reinstate the policy, which has not been in effect in the city school system since the 1995-1996 school year according to board minutes.

Larry Hanson, city manager and business representative on the council, said, "The use of corporal punishment would be another option for school officials. After reviewing the frequency of certain discipline problems at the middle school and their severity, the council concluded that corporal punishment might be an effective means of dealing with such issues. There are instances where one paddling will correct a behavior problem whereas writing pages or whatever might not have the same effect."

JC Penney Manager and fellow council business representative Joe Capers agrees.

"A lot of teachers voiced their concerns for not having a lot of options for controlling discipline problems in the classroom. One of the things we suggested was adding spaces at the Alternative School, which the board previously addressed."

Capers said corporal punishment would be available as simply another option for parents whose child was about to be suspended from school. It would not be administered without parental consent.

"It's an immediate consequence that gets the child back in the classroom without missing instruction time," said Valdosta Middle School Principal Martin Roesch. "Believe it or not, a lot of parents have requested it in lieu of other options we offer."

The board asked Superintendent of the Valdosta City School System Sam Allen to write a proposed Corporal Punishment Policy for members to review. Should the board later adopt Allen's proposal, "any certified employee of the Board, in order to maintain proper control and discipline over pupils placed under their care and supervision, may, in the exercise of sound discretion, administer corporal punishment ..."

The proposed policy states, among other things, that the corporal punishment will not be excessive or duly severe; that students will be informed in advance of those behaviors that could lead to spanking; that it will never be used as first line of punishment unless the act of misconduct was a "shock to the conscience"; and that the corporal punishment will be administered in front of an administrator.

David Waller Sr., was board chairman when the policy was originally rescinded.

"We did away with the policy because a lot of places were doing the same," Waller said. "We could not make the policy effective then and I don't think they can now. There are too many guidelines and even when you follow them to the letter you are still faced with the possibility of a lawsuit."

Waller said even if an administrator has permission from the parents to administer corporal punishment, the school system is still liable if the child is injured.

However, on a personal note, Waller said he does believe the use of corporal punishment, especially during the middle school years, can be an effective deterrent.

The Board of Education will meet at the Central Office, 1204 Williams Street, at 7 p.m. The called meeting is open to the public.

Star Press, Muncie, Indiana, 25 June 2002

Jay Schools consider banning corporal punishment

By Ric Routledge


PORTLAND - The Jay School Board on Monday unanimously approved a motion to ban corporal punishment in the district. The motion will have to be approved a second time - and by a different board - before it becomes official.

Policy changes require two readings; by the time this motion gets a second reading in July, the seven-member board will include four new faces.

Board members Greg Miller and Eric Rogers did not run for reelection and board members Christine Phillips and Rob Weaver were defeated in the May election.

The discipline issue came up when local resident Donna Haggenjos asked the board to review its corporal punishment policy and to ban it.

"It teaches kids 'might means right,' " she said. Corporal punishment is banned in 23 states.

Haggenjos declined to say whether any of her three children who attend Jay schools had been subjected to corporal punishment. "My kids aren't the issue; the policy is," she said.

Board member Rob Weaver said he had problems "catching it cold like this. It should be up to the new board."

But board member Christine Phillips said it would be interesting to have two groups look at it. "I was for it [corporal punishment] a long time ago, but there is no place for it any more."

Fellow board member Duane Starr said he had not heard any complaints about corporal punishment in Jay schools since he has been on the board. "It's better than expulsion," he said.

"Paddling got my attention," Starr added. "But discipline is a much greater problem today."

Board member Frank Vormohr said corporal punishment was used when he was in school, and "I resent it to this day."

"I have sympathy for both sides," Weaver said. "I encourage the public to let the board know how they feel."


Copyright 2002 The Star Press.

masthead The Advocate, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, 28 June 2002

Teacher applicants told to pay fee


Applicants for teaching jobs in the East Baton Rouge Parish public schools will have to pay $25 for the opportunity.

The School Board voted without opposition Thursday to start charging the fee to cover half of the cost of applicants' criminal background checks.

Also without opposition, the board banned paddling, eased up its policy of zero tolerance for fighting and opposed the state's appropriation of $17 million to nonpublic schools.


The board also revised its student handbook Thursday to ban paddling and to give elementary school principals some flexibility in dealing with children caught fighting.

School system policy had allowed children to get up to five swats on the behind with a paddle with their parents' permission. However, Superintendent Clayton Wilcox told principals a year ago to stop paddling children, and the board's vote makes that official.

Jim Machen, deputy superintendent for instruction, has said paddling is resulting in more and more lawsuits nationwide, even by parents who had signed permission slips.

Instead of paddling, Machen said, the system is calling for more counseling and better training for teachers to manage their classrooms.

School Board member Pat Smith suggested peer counseling and peer trials, in which students judge each other and mete out punishment.

The board's hard-line stance against fighting, which had required principals to recommend expulsion, will remain in effect at middle and high schools. Elementary principals, however, will now be able to suspend their students or send them to discipline centers or time-out rooms instead.


masthead Birmingham News, Alabama, 29 June 2002

Court weights paddling over Pledge

By Carol Robinson
News staff writer

ATLANTA -- The lawyer for a former Walker County student told a federal three-judge panel Friday that his client's constitutional rights were violated when he was paddled for refusing to recite the Pledge of Allegiance.

Michael Holloman, a former Parrish High School senior who is now a 20-year-old college student, sued in 2000 after he was disciplined for raising his fist in silence rather than saying the Pledge and saluting the flag with the rest of his class.

The suit also says Holloman and other students were wrongly exposed to a school-sanctioned "prayer request" and "moment of silence" when teacher Fawn Allred began the reflection with the words "Let us pray" and concluded with an "Amen."

"The freedom to differ is not just limited to things that don't matter much," Jasper lawyer Charles Tatum told the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals.

Russell B. Robertson, a lawyer for the Walker County Board of Education, said students do say the Pledge and there is a moment of silence, but students aren't compelled to participate in either. Holloman was punished, Robertson said, for disrupting the class.

"He was punished for his demonstration and defiance," Robertson told the federal judges. "He did display an open defiance of the teacher. He could have simply refrained from saying the Pledge of Allegiance."

Friday's oral arguments before the 11th Circuit came just days after a federal appeals court in California ruled the Pledge unconstitutional, saying the phrase "under God" was an endorsement of religion. The cases are different because one deals with the issue of whether a student can be punished for refusal to say the Pledge rather than the issue of whether the Pledge is unconstitutional.

Holloman and another student, Michael Hutto, sued the Walker County Board of Education, the school principal and Allred. Hutto dropped out of the case and went on to accept a college scholarship.

Tatum said Holloman's actions were a show of support for Hutto, who was disciplined the previous day for staying silent with his hand in his pocket during the class Pledge. Hutto, who claimed his Baptist faith prohibits idol worship, was reprimanded in front of the class and sent to the office.

The next day Holloman took his stand. After students later complained about his behavior, he was paddled three times and written up for inciting student disorder.

Tatum told the court the teacher testified she continued with class after Holloman's display. Tatum contended that showed there was no disruption.

U.S. District Judge William Acker last year first dismissed the principal and the teacher from the lawsuit, and later threw out the entire suit. Acker wrote in his decision that Holloman had not presented evidence from which a reasonable jury could deduce the existence of a board policy that violates one or more of Holloman's First Amendment rights.

The appeals panel will likely take several weeks to decide whether to uphold Acker's ruling that there was no violation of rights or to send the case back to federal court in Birmingham.

Copyright 2002 All Rights Reserved.

The Courier, Houma, Louisiana, 30 June 2002

Spare the rod, say some school officials

By Kimberly Krupa
The Courier

Taking steps to ban all forms of violence in public schools, Terrebonne Parish administrators are mandating the immediate suspension of corporal punishment as a way to discipline difficult students.

"There's got to be a better way," said Pat Luke, who supervises student services. "We're in education. We're an educational institution. Surely we can come up with an alternative."

Although School Board approval is not required, the call for a moratorium on hitting children in school will be presented to the Education and Policy Committee 5 p.m. Monday at School Board headquarters on Stadium Drive.

"What we're attempting to do administratively is put a moratorium on it and challenge people professionally to put a moratorium on it and come up with more creative ways," said Luke. "(Corporal punishment's) value in our society has changed. We're taking a bold stand, but it's a move to professionally challenge our educated people."

Terrebonne's effort to ban corporal punishment in school also reflects a broader trend in education circles toward stiffening policies against all displays of aggression.

Compared to the district's zero-tolerance policy toward fighting, anger management classes and overall anti-violence messages, corporal punishment looks archaic and more than a little out-of-place, said Luke.

"We have a more enlightened staff nowadays and there's more of a trend to talk out problems, be more nonviolent," he said. "We're seeing nonviolent participation as benefiting the common good."

Twenty-three states still allow corporal punishment in schools, Louisiana included, and most are Southern states.

In 1998, the federal Department of Education reported about 400,000 students across the country are hit each year in school, although other child-advocacy groups put that number closer to one million.

Overall, though, the number of students paddled - the most common form of physical discipline - has dropped by more than half since 1988.

Most attribute this change of mind to Benjamin Spock's "Baby and Child Care," published in 1946, and its warnings against punitive child-rearing. The paperback sold 50 million copies.

Although Spock didn't specifically say not to spank, his work helped researchers theorize that spanking could make kids violent and could damage fragile young feelings.

Copyright 2002 Houma Today

blob Follow-up: 2 July 2002 - Officials speak out on corporal punishment

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Copyright Colin Farrell 2002, 2003
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