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School CP - April 2003

The Log Cabin Democrat, Conway, Arkansas, 13 April 2003

Mount Vernon-Enola parents want legal action in alleged racial threat

By Tammy Keith
Log Cabin Staff Writer

The parents of three students at Mount Vernon-Enola High School are seeking legal action because they allege their children were threatened and the school isn't doing enough about it.

Carla Harris said her son, a seventh-grader, is the only black student in the high school. She filed a report Tuesday with the Faulkner County Sheriff's Office alleging that two seniors approached her son and two of his white friends at school. The older students saw bandanas in the seventh-graders' pockets and asked if they were in a gang, and one said, "Someone should shoot the ..." and used a curse word and racial slur.

Harris and the other parents, Lisa Lewis and Toby Gillaspie, have talked to school officials and a deputy prosecutor in Faulkner County without satisfaction, they said.

The parents said the seniors were given the option of corporal punishment or suspension from school, and they chose the paddling.

Mount Vernon-Enola Superintendent Ronnie Greer would not confirm the punishment, but said the incident was investigated and the appropriate action taken.

The parents want the seniors expelled from school or at least put in an alternative environment.

"Statements like this are what led to incidents in Jonesboro," Gillaspie said, referring to the shootings in the Westside School District near Jonesboro in 1998 that left four students and one teacher dead and 10 people wounded.

"I don't want them coming back to my school where my kids are," he said.

The parents said they have been told by school officials that the older students' statements were not a direct threat.

"If there's a microscopic possibility it could happen, it concerns me," Gillaspie said.

Mrs. Harris said if the situation had been reversed, and two black students had threatened white students, "they would have arrested them on the spot." Although the chance that the seniors would bring a gun and shoot the children is "a small chance, I'm not willing to take that chance," she said.

Greer said the seniors involved were still in school and that the matter had been dealt with.

"There's another side to the story that you haven't gotten, and I don't feel at liberty to tell you. We're not saying we're condoning that in any way. There are some circumstances you just don't know."

He said there is a policy in place "for circumstances that do arise such as this."

"We acted upon what we thought, and we thought this was proper."

Gillaspie said they have left messages with the ACLU and the NAACP.

The parents also said the children told them the seniors had been bothering them all year, although it came to a head last week.

Greer said, "We act when we know. This is the first instance we know of anything."

One of the parents said the children were questioned about gangs. Lewis said her son has many bandanas in different colors, but has worn them to school in front of the principal without a problem. The parents all said their children are not in a gang.

"Their gang is keeping each other safe at school and being friends," Harris said. She lives in Little Rock and her son lives with his father, who is white, and a stepmother, in the Mount Vernon-Enola School District.

The parents said school officials asked them to keep the situation quiet. "Sure, we don't want this in the press, but we want to do what's right," Greer said. "We want to protect our students."

Gillaspie said, "I'm a quiet, reserved-type person and I don't go around rattling cages." However, he believes the children were "terrorized."

He said if the school doesn't take action with these seniors, it will give others the idea they can threaten to shoot someone "and all I'll get is two swats with a paddle."

Gillaspie said one school official who contacted him said '"things could get messy.' I don't want it to get this way ... but messy is the only thing I've got left."

Greer said one parent who has the perception "that we've got two bullies up here that are terroristically threatening their kids and their kids are living in fear," does not understand the situation completely.

The superintendent plans to contact the parents for another meeting to work things out, "although we probably won't agree on everything."

The Log Cabin Democrat and Morris Digital Works

Delaware State News, Dover, 15 April 2003

Spanking bill signed

By Joe Rogalsky
Staff Writer

Gov. Minner signed Senate Bill 15 into law Tuesday, outlawing spanking, paddling and other forms of corporal punishment in the state's public schools.

"This is important legislation for the education community in Delaware," said Sen. David P. Sokola, D-Newark, the bill's sponsor along with Rep. Pamela Maier, R-Newark.

"While the use of this type of antiquated disciplinary system has waned in recent times, Rep. Maier and I felt that restricting this unacceptable behavior by putting it into law was the right thing to do."

All Rights Reserved - Independent Newspapers, Inc., Cave Junction, Oregon, 18 April 2003

Law of the Land

Court spanks social workers

Judges: State agents violated Constitution in corporal-punishment probe

By Ron Strom

Social workers who entered a private Christian school without a warrant and questioned a 10-year-old boy about corporal punishment violated the U.S. Constitution, a federal appeals court has ruled.

Ruling in favor of parents in Milwaukee, Wis., the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said Wednesday the government employees - Carla Heck, John Wichman and supervisor Christine Hansen - in probing alleged child abuse at Greendale Baptist Academy, violated both the Fourth and 14th Amendments.

"This is a tremendous victory for parental rights," said Steve Crampton, chief counsel for the Center for Law & Policy, which represented the parents in the case - John and Jane Doe v. Carla Heck, et al.

Crampton told WND, "This decision puts a stake in the ground telling [social workers], 'The law applies to you, too.'"

The case arose, Crampton says, when social workers from the Bureau of Milwaukee Child Welfare, which had been taken over by the state of Wisconsin, forced their way into the school over the objections of Principal Troy Bond, seized a 10-year-old boy with police assistance, and interviewed him about the school's policy of administering a "swat" as discipline in certain cases.

Based on the information obtained from the child, the Center for Law & Policy said in a statement, the social workers targeted the parents' disciplinary practices, questioning their own use of corporal punishment. Eventually, the social workers opened files on numerous families in the school and sought to remove the school's accreditation.

The court also held that the social workers violated the rights of parents when they threatened to remove their children from the home even though, in the words of Judge Daniel A. Manion, they "had no reason whatsoever to suspect that Mr. and Mrs. Doe were abusing their children."

Crampton said Mrs. Doe was forced to buy a cell phone so she could quickly contact her husband if the social workers tried to seize her children. He says she put blankets over the windows of her home for fear the social workers would try to stake out the house in search of information.

The appeals court further found that the statute under which the social workers acted is unconstitutional as applied to the parents and school. The Center for Law & Policy is petitioning the court for a more formal prohibition against the type of action taken by the social workers to prevent similar problems in the future.

Crampton explained that prior to the decision, the social workers were "free to run around like Barney Fife" with a loaded gun.

The case went to the appeals panel after the parents lost the first round in a lower court in September 2001.

Although the defendants originally were sued in their individual capacities so that damages could be determined, the court gave the government employees "qualified immunity," preventing any monetary award.

Crampton is fairly confident the government agency will not appeal this week's decision. "I would be shocked if they do," he said.

Ron Strom is a news editor for


The Angleton Times, Texas, 19 April 2003

There's no 'pop' culture anymore

By J. Kevin Tumlinson

I grew up in the shadow of the paddle. If I got out of line, my teachers or my principal would gladly do a posterior alignment for me. In other words, put both hands on the chair rails and pray your three extra pair of underwear were enough.

Today that's not an option. In fact, it's become such a foreign concept that most teenagers become hot tempered at the very notion. "If they tried to give me pops I'd turn around and deck 'em."

Would they?

Not at that time. During those decades of corporal punishment, it was completely normal and acceptable to use a paddle on a child. Everyone was aware that if they got into trouble, they might come under the gun - figuratively speaking, of course. And since it was the norm, no one questioned it. They simply gripped the chair rails and took their medicine.

The question is how did the climate surrounding corporal punishment change so quickly? In less than a decade it became taboo to so much as lay a finger on a disobedient child. "I'll call my lawyer" became a catch phrase and "lawsuit" became a buzzword on campuses across the country. When did high school kids get lawyers?

Has anyone else noticed the alarming rise of school shootings and violence that has pervaded the media over the past 10 years? And with it there has been an increase in "the blame game." Suddenly cartoons, video games and rap music are the root of all evil. Are you kidding me? I grew up in the era of "Johnny Quest," "Bugs Bunny" and "The Herculoids" - it's safe to say I've seen every violent act known to man performed in two dimensions before me. I also grew up as part of the "Nintendo Generation," exposed to pixelized blood and gore from a score of games. And yet, not once did I march in to my high school and gun down a bunch of innocents.

People have been exposed to violence for centuries, and I think we can all agree that the number of atrocities committed by the average citizen has typically been kept to a minimum. The occasional sociopath may crop up, but his rampage is usually fueled by some sort of trauma or abuse. No one ever claimed that Jack the Ripper was set off because he'd read too many Shakespearean plays.

No, I firmly believe that the rash of teen violence is due in large part to a lack of consistent and effective discipline, by both the school system and the parents of students. Schools are no longer allowed to do anything that might actually cause a child to change his or her ways, and parents aren't filling in the gaps by maintaining a level of discipline at home. The result is that we have a generation of kids who believe that they should not have to endure any punishment. They should not be held accountable.

In a way they're right. After all, we (and by we, I mean parents, schools and even supremely talented newspaper columnists) are the ones charged with raising these children. Our hands are the ones that are supposed to deliver discipline or rewards. It's time to stop blaming everything else and start taking responsibility for the world we, ourselves, have created.

I'm not saying that corporal punishment in our schools is a perfect solution, it had its faults. It was a system that could be abused easily. But you have to admit, when you knew you were in for a whuppin' you were suddenly a model citizen, right?

So maybe schools shouldn't have the authority to use corporal punishment. Maybe that tool should reside completely in the hands of the parents. Maybe it should simply be a case of the old Biblical adage, "Spare the rod and spoil the child." Or how about this - maybe parents should openly give school officials PERMISSION to use corporal punishment when a child acts up.

You can make all the negative claims you want about the school system that I grew up in, but the fact is that the lawmakers, financial success stories and the movers and shakers of the world all graduated out of that system. That has to say something for it, doesn't it?

- J. Kevin Tumlinson is a teacher of "at-risk" students in Angleton I.S.D. He is a Houston Baptist University graduate with degrees in English and Communications. You can reach him by e-mail at or visit him on the web at

 Copyright 2003 The Angleton Times

St Francois County Daily Journal, Park Hills, Missouri, 21 April 2003

District will let contracts of embattled principals, teachers lapse

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) -- The Kansas City School District will not renew the contracts of two principals and two teachers accused of misconduct by students.

Three of the four work at Pitcher Elementary School. Teacher Damara Lashley has been accused of taping students to chairs and Principal Rick Mills was accused of spanking students. Both have said the allegations are false, although Mills has openly advocated corporal punishment.

Swapnam Kumar, another teacher at the school, allegedly knew about the excessive discipline but did not alert district officials.

Stephen Aspleaf, the principal at Kansas City Middle School of the Arts, was also let go. Aspleaf was suspended with pay last month after he allegedly failed to call police about an attempted sexual assault.

The district's board of education made the decisions last week in a closed meeting. The decisions were revealed after a Sunshine Law request by The Kansas City Star.

Maurice Watson, an attorney for the board, revealed the board's actions Friday, but declined comment on the specific reasons for the contract terminations.

Altogether, the board voted not to renew the contracts of 34 teachers. The contracts end June 30.

2002-2003, The Daily Journal. All Rights Reserved.

Fayetteville Observer, N. Carolina, 28 April 2003

Soldier, airman sought to serve

By Al Greenwood
Staff writer


Jerod Dennis' tennis skills won him trips to the state championships in high school. His pranks won him the record for being paddled by the principal.


His fun-loving personality won him friends in Oklahoma and Fort Bragg, according to his family.

Dennis, a private in the Army, died Friday after his platoon was ambushed in Afghanistan. He was 19.

Dennis was a member of the 3rd Battalion, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment from Fort Bragg.

A Pope Air Force Base airman, Raymond Losano, 24, was also fatally wounded Friday while on patrol in Afghanistan, his father, Roberto Losano of Del Rio, Texas, told The Associated Press.

It was unclear Sunday whether Losano and Dennis were wounded in the same battle.

Losano is survived by his wife, Sarah, who is expecting their second child, and a 2-year-old daughter.

Until joining the Army, Dennis spent most of his life in Soper and Antlers, Okla., said Jerry Dennis, his father.

Jerod grew up fishing and hunting among the pine, oak and hickory trees around his home. He listened to country music. His favorite songs were "A Country Boy Can Survive" by Hank Williams Jr.; "On the Road Again," by Willie Nelson; and "The Devil Went Down to Georgia" by the Charlie Daniels Band.

"He was an all-American kid," Jerry Dennis said. And a prankster.

Jerod liked his algebra teacher, but each day he tried to take the American flag from the classroom, said Jane Dennis, Jerod's mother. Jerod was caught every time.

When he was late for class, Jerod would try to crawl in through a window. Teachers usually noticed the 6-foot teenager trying to fit through the window.

Jordan Dennis said his older brother holds the record for being paddled by the principal at Antlers High School.

"He was mischievous," Jane Dennis said. "That's what I would say. He was a good boy with a good heart."

Jerod took sports seriously.

He played doubles in tennis with Justin Young, Jane Dennis said. The team made the state championships twice.

One day, the military visited Antlers, and Jerod took a qualification test, Jerry Dennis said. Jerod aced it. All of the military branches were hunting him down. Jerod liked the Army's presentation the best and asked his father to sign some papers allowing him to take the physical in Oklahoma City. Jerod called his father.

"I was thinking, 'Well, maybe I shouldn't have signed this thing,' " Jerry Dennis said. "I said, 'Jerod, you can hold off on this. You have time. Why don't you come back home and think about it.'

"He called back an hour later and said he enlisted," Jerry Dennis said. Jerod enlisted because he wanted a chance to further his education.

Initially, neither of his parents wanted him to join. Jerry Dennis fought in Vietnam. Two soldiers in his group died in combat.

"It was not a decision I liked in the beginning," Jane Dennis said, "but I came to see fairly soon that it was what he wanted to do, and I stood behind him 100 percent."

Three weeks after Jerod enlisted, terrorists destroyed the World Trade Center and a portion of the Pentagon. Jerod graduated from high school the following spring, in May 2002. A month later, he left for basic training in Fort Benning, Ga.

Jerod was stationed at Fort Bragg last October. A month later, he learned he was going to Afghanistan for six months. "He knew what it meant to him, and he was ready," Jerry Dennis said. "He was committed to it. He was always the kind who wanted to do his part, his thing. He got it in his mind straight."

Jane Dennis said Jerod was proud of what he was doing. "It was what he wanted to do," she said. "He never wavered in his position."

At first, Jerod was excited about being in a foreign country, Jane Dennis said. But the monotony soon bored him. He called home often.

"He was all homesick on the weekends and stuff," Jordan Dennis said.

Jerod learned to appreciate what he had growing up in Oklahoma, Jerry Dennis said. "He told me the last time he talked to me, 'You got to be proud of what we have in America."'

Jerod last talked with his father on April 2. They talked a lot about his 1966 Mustang. Jerry Dennis bought it for Jerod on his 16th birthday.

"We worked on it as a project together," Jerry Dennis said. "We got it nearly ready to paint, but we didn't get it finished before he went into the service."

Jordan Dennis, who is 15, plans to fix the Mustang the way Jerod wanted it, with a coat of metallic paint that's just a tad darker than baby blue.

"Even if I can't afford a vehicle. It means a lot to Jerod, and it's going to mean a lot to me," he said.


The Associated Press contributed to this story.

Copyright 2003 The Fayetteville (N.C.) Observer

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