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School CP - October 2002

Daily Sentinel, Nacogdoches, Texas, 3 October 2002

Paddling draws criticism from parent, report filed

By Jennifer Vose
Sentinel Staff

OCT. 3 - Students in the senior class at Timpson ISD received corporal punishment for their actions Friday morning before school and during the early portions of first period on that day, and at least one parent thinks it might have gone too far.

Darryl Pate said his daughter received punishment which caused bruising that was apparent for several days after being paddled Friday for participating in what some call a school tradition. Some other students had similar bruising, he said.

Pate said Timpson High School Principal Robert Cousins administered the punishment to the senior girls. A coach administered punishment to the senior boys. Pate has filed a report with the Timpson Police Department regarding the incident.

The students drove their vehicles through the school parking lot, some hanging out the windows and yelling, in what Pate called "kind of a homecoming parade." Although the school district has said students skipped their first-period classes, Pate said, they would only have been approximately 15 minutes tardy to their first class if they hadn't been lined up in front of the office for punishment. As it was, the students missed all of their first period class and part of their second-period class.

At the end of the school day, Pate said, his daughter was experiencing redness and swelling to the area where the paddling was received. She was allowed to participate in homecoming activities as a cheerleader and was taken to Shelby County Regional Medical Center for treatment afterward.

Timpson city marshal Fred Walker said he has received only the one report regarding the incident.

"Right now, only one report has been taken by our office in reference to the paddlings at the school," Walker said. "I have no idea how many students may have been involved."

The report was forwarded to the county attorney's office, and Walker said the disposition of the case was unknown. Shelby County Attorney Gary Rholes could not be reached for comment after several attempts Tuesday and Wednesday.

Timpson ISD Superintendent Dr. Leland Moore declined to comment on specific details of the incident, saying it would be a violation of the Family Privacy Act.

Cousins followed school policy in disciplining students Friday morning, Moore said.

Moore said the school district has had no reason to reprimand Cousins regarding the incident, and he was unaware of the report made to police.

Cousins declined an opportunity to comment.

Pate said he has no argument with the school district for disciplining his child for her participation in the "drive-by," only with the way that discipline was administered. His main concern in filing a complaint against Cousins, he said, is to ensure that Cousins is no longer responsible for corporal punishment of the students.

"In my opinion, he doesn't need to be the one giving punishment, to girls or to boys," Pate said. "My daughter did an act on Friday, and she had some consequences. The high school principal also did an act on Friday, and I believe there should be consequences for him as well."

Pate said his discussions with school officials haven't gone well. He was told he would have to file a complaint with the principal, wait five days for a reply, then file a complaint with the superintendent and wait another five days for a reply before his complaint could be added as an agenda item to be brought before the board, he said. Compliance with that policy will not allow Pate's complaint to be brought before the board at their next meeting.

2002 Cox Newspapers, Inc.
The Daily Sentinel and Cox Interactive Media

Daily Sentinel, Nacogdoches, Texas, 5 October 2002

Bricks And Bouquets

Handing evacuees, paddling, the center and politics


The Daily Sentinel


A brick to the Timpson ISD, which appears to condone allowing male principals to paddle female high school students -- a practice we find outrageous. The letter on the accompanying page [not available - C.F.] from the grandfather of one of the girls who was paddled expresses our sentiments exactly. Violence begets violence, and there are plenty of other ways to exact discipline in schools. Then there's the fact that a male principal was paddling females who are legally adults.

Parents certainly have the right to administer corporal discipline if they wish, but we believe schools ought to stay away from the paddle.



2002 Cox Newspapers, Inc.
The Daily Sentinel and Cox Interactive Media

blob Follow-up: 15 November 2002 - Board sides with administration in paddling incident

News Channel 3, WREG-TV, Memphis, Tennessee, 15 October 2002

Corporal Punishment Flyer Upsets Some Folks

By Giovanna Drpic

Memphis, TN - School teachers are being compared to porn stars and prostitutes. The comparison is in a flyer circulating within the Memphis School Board. News Channel 3's Giovanna Drpic explains.

Giovanna Drpic ReportingThe flyer focuses on corporal punishment, which is allowed at Memphis City Schools as outlined in their handbook. But it's a practice school board member Lora Jobe has been trying to eliminate for years. It's how she went about getting the message across at a recent board meeting that isn't sitting too well with some folks.

How would you react to this flyer? It says, "At this time in the United States, the only people who can smack someone on their buttocks as part of their paid professional duties are school teachers, prostitutes and performers in the pornography filming industry." Commissioner Lora Jobe, who opposes corporal punishment, sent it to other school board members. And at least one is offended.

Sara Lewis, a city school board member, says, "I don't think that teachers should be compared or put in the same context with prostitutes, pimps and people who deal with pornography. I'm a teacher. I resented that." Celestine Harris, a mother of four says, "With that child bent over and with that butt up in the air and that paddle - it's just got me shocked for words right now."

Jobe says, "It's clear what it means. It's not offensive to teachers." Ricky Kizer, a fifth grade teacher at Caldwell Elementary School says, "I'm offended by it because we're grouped in a category with people that are not even on the same level."

Caldwell Elementary School Principal, Dr. Lirah Sabir says the picture dehumanizes children. Dr. Sabir, who supports corporal punishment explains, "Those of us that believe in corporal punishment don't believe in dehumanizing children." And that's the point, according to Jobe, who was visibly upset. Jobe says, "It is demeaning and degrading. That's why the image is demeaning and degrading. The truth hurts."

Dr. Sabir says corporal punishment is used as a last resort at Caldwell Elementary School. As it stands right now, parents can give written notice they don't want their child to be paddled. But ultimately, the decision rests with the school.

All content Copyright 2001 - 2002, WorldNow and WREG. All Rights Reserved.

The Democrat-Reporter, Linden, Alabama, 17 October 2002

Mom battles school paddle

Michaela Curtis says Title 16 makes Demopolis teachers immune to state's child abuse law.

Michaela Curtis has not stopped her fight to get excessive corporal punishment banned from Alabama schools -- and more specifically from Demopolis schools.

Curtis wants parents to be aware that what happened to her son -- deep bruises from paddlings at schools -- could happen to someone else's child -- and she said it has. Curtis said it has happened again in Demopolis, but the parents are afraid to come forward.

In her study, Curtis has found the law to protect children has been circumvented by another law that protects school employees.

Curtis' youngest son, Jonathan, was paddled for picking his nose while at Westside Elementary School March 26, 2001.

The paddling was administered by Jennifer Lay, behavior management specialist for Demopolis City schools.

Jonathan told his mother he got paddled three times that day, but it the next day when Curtis discovered the extent of the paddling. Jonathan was getting out of the bath when his older brother, Matthew, spotted the deep bruises on his bottom.

Jonathan admitted he had gotten in trouble again the next day for the same reason. He was sent to Mrs. Lay. Jonathan said he was paddled eight times Tuesday after three times Monday.

Curtis' husband is a doctor and was working in Selma when the bruises were discovered. Michaela Curtis called him, and then took Jonathan to the Demopolis hospital, where police and human resource officials were notified.

Nothing was done.

The Marengo County Department of Human Resources would not respond because they don't investigate incidents in public schools, Curtis was told.

A Demopolis Police officer responded and took a report. Curtis was told Det. Tim Soronen would follow up and talk to Jonathan. He never has, she said.

"We are trying to get people of Alabama to realize that Title 16 which is Alabama Code 16, is the Teacher Protection Act, and it indemnifies all public school employees from bus driver to janitor, cafeteria worker, teacher, principal, all of them. It indemnifies them when they use corporal punishment on a child.

"The act specifically says, in 16-28-2, there is exemption of teachers and employees from application of Title 26."

"Title 26 is Alabama's Child Protection Act. Title 26 is actually a very good child protection act. It has provisions for mandatory notification when a teacher suspects ( expects is typed in error) abuse at home. The act says abuse of a child will not be accepted from anyone."

In 1995, along came Title 16 and in one fell swoop they indemnified all public school employees. This law goes on to say, that not only are they indemnified, but they are immune from civil and criminal prosecution.

"That is why I can't get an attorney to look at our case, because the law allows it." Curtis said, "If by chance I could get a lawyer to look at it, my tax dollars will pay for the teacher's lawyer."

" If a child did the same thing this teacher did, then the child is arrested immediately...and expelled. However when a teacher crosses the line with assault and battery, they are purposely well protected, not just protected, but immune."

"As far as corporal punishment here in Demopolis no policies have changed that I am aware of since last school year." The handbook wording has changed, though. In the handbook they have dropped the mention of corporal punishment, but yet it is fully allowed.

"It indirectly still allows them to do it." Under due process it allows corporal punishment.

Curtis said at the middle school, students may not have restroom passes from class except in emergency situations. The four minutes allotted between classes is when students can go to the bathroom.

Curtis has a list of 107 national organizations which have spoken out seeking to ban corporal punishment in schools. The list includes the American Medical Association, Alabama Bar Association, and the Alabama Education Association.

"It is just a little too much freedom to hand over."

Curtis said she is not seeking to hurt the school system in any way. The Demopolis City Schools were one of the main reasons she and her husband chose to move to Demopolis. Their two younger sons are excelling in their classes.

"I just want this remedied. I want the problem fixed. I just want these children, including my own, to be safe," Curtis said.

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Copyright Colin Farrell 2003
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