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ruler   :  Archive   :  2004   :  US Schools Apr 2004



School CP - April 2004

Corpun file 13080

KTHV online, Little Rock, Arkansas, 1 April 2004

Teacher charged with battery for paddling student

Kimberly Garza says she has never seen anything like it. She took pictures of the welts on her 13-year-old son's backside and leg, and calls it an example of abuse. Police call it third degree battery.

That's the charge the boy's gym teacher, Terry Russell, is facing. He allegedly paddled the boy to punish him for getting into a fight. He'll be in court for a probable cause hearing Friday morning.

"I understand you spank a child," Garza says. "But what he did, what this coach did to my child is excessive. It's abuse. And that is not right."

Russell did not return our calls Thursday, but Malvern Superintendent Ron Holt says paddling is only used as a last resort for punishing. And he has never heard of any excessive paddling in the Malvern district.

"This is excessive," Garza says. "When you see the pictures of my son, you'll see this is very excessive. Nobody has the right to treat a child this way."

Arkansas is one of 23 states that allows teachers to discipline students with a paddle. In fact, in 2000 Arkansas ranked second in the nation in percentage of kids paddled. According to the U.S. Department of Education, that year 9.8 percent of the state's total student body had been paddled.

Chris Shaw, Reporter/Anchor  

blob Follow-up: 5 April 2004 - Boy paddled, Coach cited for battery third degree

Corpun file 13099

Winchester News-Gazette, Indiana, 1 April 2004

Area schools differ in corporal punishment

By Cynthia Aukerman
News-Gazette reporter

In the wake of a controversial paddling incident in Indianapolis, corporal punishment is again in the news in Indiana, one of 22 states that allow it. Locally, some area schools allow corporal punishment; some don't. Paddling seems to be an infrequent practice.

Monte Stebbins, superintendent at Monroe Central, said his school's written policy allows corporal punishment but there have been no paddlings in the three years he's been superintendent. He said his staff has found more effective means of discipline.

At Randolph Southern, board policy gives principals several discipline options, including corporal punishment. There must be two witnesses.

RS Superintendent Phil Dubbs said the current principals don't use paddling but a previous high school principal did.

At Randolph Central, board policy allows professional staff to use reasonable physical force but only as a last resort. Superintendent Phillip Wray said paddling is used less than five times a year, and mostly at the request of parents who believe spanking is the best discipline for their youngster.

Wray added that principal don't like to do paddlings for obvious reasons, such as possible lawsuits.

At Mississinawa Valley across the State Line, Ohio law in the 1990s required schools to develop a written policy about corporal punishment, including stating whether or not it could be used. The MV school board decided not to allow corporal punishment.

At Randolph Eastern, school board policy says it can not condone unreasonable force and fear as discipline measures. However, as a last resort, corporal punishment may be used.

Jan Caudle, who has been Union City Community High School principal since 1992, said paddling has not been used at the high school during her tenure. She also said she had never heard of any paddling incidents at the middle school or elementary school.

Union School officials were on spring break and were not available for comment on Tuesday.

Copyright 2004 Winchester News-Gazette

Corpun file 13096

The Tribune, Seymour, Indiana, 2 April 2004

Paddling students remains divisive issue for schools

By Clint Morgan

Despite growing concern that Indiana legislators should ban the disciplinary practice of spanking students in public schools, the state remains one of 22 states where corporal punishment is allowed.

The debate gained momentum in Indianapolis after school officials this month suspended two teachers who administrators said were involved in paddling six 9-year-old boys, including one who was treated at a hospital for bruises and swelling.

Educators and legislators on the local level have differing opinions on the subject, with those in favor of the rule saying the choice should remain a local decision.

"This is an issue of local control versus state control," Crothersville Community Schools Superintendent Terry Goodin said this week. Goodin, D-Crothersville, is also a state representative who has debated the issue in the General Assembly, a place where legislative efforts to ban the practice have come and gone over the years, but never passed.

"I believe the local officials are best suited to make the decision because they represent the local community. (In Crothersville) in the elementary school it is left up to the principal and he calls the parents to ask if the child should be paddled or not. Most of the time their answer is 'Yes.'"

However, Cheryl Fenton, a teacher at Seymour Middle School and president of the Seymour Teachers' Association, said the option is there, but it is one that is very rarely used in Seymour.

"Corporal punishment is not an option that is chosen in Seymour Community Schools," Fenton said. "It varies from building to building, but I know at Seymour Middle School that teachers never paddle.

Critics of the rule say there are more effective ways to discipline students and call paddling a negative response to negative behavior.

"If we use violence to counter violence, then the message is lost," Ted Feinberg, assistant executive director of the National Association of School Psychologists in Bethesda, Md., told The Associated Press last week. "It just doesn't work, and it doesn't help the kids who are prone to inappropriate behavior."

A law allowing the practice of paddling has been on the state's books for at least 30 years. A 1995 revision authorized teachers and school staffers to "take any action that is reasonably necessary" to prevent interference with educational missions. Another law gives parents and guardians the right to use "reasonable" physical force to discipline a child.

"There is a huge difference between corporal punishment and abuse," Goodin said. "People complain that there are so many problems in the schools, but yet people want all discipline gone."

"I have been at corporations where it is allowed and where it is not," Fenton said, "but I think that if it is allowed it must be personally monitored, because there is a way to administrate it and a way to not."

Content 2004 The Tribune

Corpun file 14677

Malvern Daily Record, Arkansas, 5 April 2004

Boy paddled, Coach cited for battery third degree


A special judge appointed to the case of a junior high coach charged with battery said he'll consider over the weekend a defense motion to dismiss the charges.

Malvern attorney Louis Loyd was appointed as special judge presiding over the case against Malvern Junior High School Coach Terry Russell. Russell is represented by George Hopkins, and Seventh Judicial District Deputy Prosecutor Richard Garrett is special prosecutor.

In late January, Russell paddled a seventh grade boy for scuffling. Several hours later, when the boy's mother got home from work, the boy showed her red welts on his buttocks and upper thigh. She immediately called police.


The 13-year-old victim testified at Friday's hearing that another student had shoved him, and he tripped another boy, who fell. He and the student who pushed him were both disciplined, the boy said.

He said they were given a choice of two 'licks' with a paddle or five days of in-school suspension (ISS). Both chose the paddling.

The boy testified that Russell gave the paddling after determining through MJHS Assistant Principal Danny Lindsey that the boy's mother hadn't signed a corporal punishment waiver, prohibiting the school from paddling him.

The boy said he had bruises up to a week later and was sore for about two weeks.

He said "they" told him taking the paddling would be better than ISS because "it's over in two minutes."

But he said he was never warned or told that scuffling would result in corporal punishment.

The school's student handbook says on page 18, in the corporal punishment subsection, that students "must have had prior warning that continuing or repetition of misconduct would result in corporal punishment."

The boy's mother, Kimberly Garza, testified that when she saw the red welts on her son's body, she called police. She has always allowed the schools to administer corporal punishment, she said, but has in the past been notified by phone prior to punishment being administered. That didn't happen this time, she said.


In the meantime, another parent has contacted the police department about a similar incident. Marie Davis said she spoke with officers this week about a baseball-sized bruise her son suffered when Russell paddled him in November.

In mid-November, her son, then 12 years old, was paddled for fighting with another student. Davis called the Department of Human Services, but said DHS told her two weeks later they couldn't do anything because the school followed procedure.

According to the DHS report, which Davis provided to the Malvern Daily Record by request, there was a "question as to if the paddling Š was the cause of the bruise. Russell followed the school's policy regarding paddlings. There is not a preponderance of evidence to support allegations Terry Russell physically abused (the child)."

The police department could not comment on that case because charges have not been filed.

Corpun file 13242

Daily Record, Malvern, Arkansas, 9 April 2004

Special Judge Louis Loyd dismissed charges of battery third degree against Malvern Junior High School Coach Terry Russell

In late January, Russell paddled a seventh grade boy for scuffling. Several hours later, when the boy's mother got home from work, the boy showed her red welts on his buttocks and upper thigh. She immediately called police.

Russell was cited for battery third degree. At a hearing Friday, his attorney, George Hopkins, filed a motion for dismissal, saying there was no indication that Russell violated school policy.

The 13-year-old boy testified that he and another boy had scuffled. Given a choice of two 'licks' with a paddle or five days of in-school suspension, both boys chose the paddling.

Loyd said at Friday's hearing that he would take all testimony under advisement. In an order Tuesday, Loyd referred to an investigation conducted by the Department of Human Services which "concluded that the injuries were the result of a reasonable and moderate physical discipline inflicted by a parent or guardian for the purpose of restraining or correcting a child." That DHS report recommended unsubstantiation of the allegation.

In a letter to Malvern Police Lt. William Ross from Cindy Stroud of the Hot Spring County Division of Children and Family Services, Stroud wrote, "During our assessment of alleged child maltreatment, it has been determined that the alleged offender is not the child's caretaker."

Loyd also mentioned in the ruling that no testimony was presented that the boy did not receive or seek medical treatment.

The ruling says, "The court relies heavily on the investigation conducted by the Department of Human Services". The report "indicates that there is not a preponderance of evidence to support the allegations of child maltreatment and further indicates that the injuries were the result of reasonable and moderate physical discipline inflicted by a guardian for the purpose of restraining or correcting a child."

Loyd ruled that Russell "had met his burden" on the motion for dismissal and "probably cause did not exist" to charge Russell with battery third degree. The charges were dismissed.

In a written statement issued Wednesday, Russell said, "I would like to thank my family, friends and students for their support throughout this process. This ordeal was handled wrong from the beginning, starting with the Malvern Police Department and ending with the television media.

"The fact is, I should have never been charged. The court dismissed the charge in large part because of the Department of Human Services investigation, which 'unsubstantiated' the allegation of child maltreatment. If the Malvern Police Department had been patient enough to wait for the DHS report, I would have never been charged.

"I am ready to put this behind me and move forward in my job of working with the young people of the Malvern School District."

Corpun file 13186

The Express-Star, Chickasha, Oklahoma, 9 April 2004

DA declines to file charges against Ninnekah Principal

By Jason Clarke

District Attorney Gene Christian said that the State will not be filing charges against Ninnekah High School Principal David Pitts for leaving bruises when he spanked a female student.

Christian said that the March 26 spanking did not rise to the level of being criminal.

Christian also noted that the alleged handcuffing incident occurred in March of 2003 and that the handcuffing was not performed by Pitts. Christian said that he has discussed the handcuffing issue with all of the parties, and it has been agreed that it is a civil matter.

The investigation into the spanking began when Ninnekah Police Chief Scott Miller received a page asking him to contact the student’s doctor, Dr. Michael Hunt of the Five Oaks Medical Group. According to the report, Hunt told the officer that he had just examined a student who was experiencing swelling and bruising as the result of being paddled. Chief Miller then met with the student’s parents. According to the report, the parents said they had not signed a corporal punishment release for the school, but had consented to allowing two swats as punishment for a recent incident.

In the report, the student told Miller that she actually received three swats. The extra swat, she said she was told, was for not completing the rest of her punishment in the agreed upon timeframe. According to the report, Pitts would not consent to give an interview to the police without his attorney present. The report was turned over to the District Attorney’s Office before that interview could be obtained.

The parents of the student have filed a civil suit against Pitts and teacher Connie Huseman individually, as well as a tort claim against the school district.

The parents were also granted a temporary injunction by District Judge Richard Van Dyck, prohibiting further corporal punishment to the student and prohibiting Pitts from preventing the student from transferring to another District.

Corpun file 13248

The Robesonian, Lumberton, North Carolina, 26 April 2004

Corporal punishment rarely, if ever, used

By Mark Locklear
Staff writer

James Jones, a retired principal, is definitely old school.

The 81-year-old remembers when parents practically begged him to spank their children if they misbehaved at school.

"Sure we spanked them," said Jones, principal at Prospect School from 1951 to 1984. "It was a very effective means of punishment. I didn't use it all the time, but if my students did something that warranted a paddling, I would give them an option, either take the paddle or be sent home. If they went home, they knew they'd had a bad day."

Times have changed.

In most cases, the threat of lawsuits has forced many Robeson County school officials to replace the paddle with alternative punishments. Paddles and yardsticks have gone the way of ink wells and "See Dick Run."

Susan Blackmon, principal at W.H. Knuckles Elementary School, says it's been a year since she spanked a student. It's been four years for Juanita Clark, principal at West Lumberton Elementary.

"You won't find many people paddling much these days," said Verdia Deese, principal at Union Elementary.

That decline in spankings reflects a national trend. The use of paddling as punishment has dropped to less than one-third of what it was in 1980, according to the National Coalition to Abolish Corporal Punishment in Schools.

Henry Byrd, assistant superintendent of administrative services, said he has seen a tremendous cutback in the use of corporal punishment over the last five years.

Litigious times

While 28 states have banned corporal punishment, it is still practiced in 22 states, including North Carolina, where state law allows school boards and principals to set their own policies.

But school systems that allow corporal punishment operate under the constant shadow of civil litigation.

Earlier this month, a Clay County principal made his first court appearance after a parent charged him with misdemeanor child abuse. The parent said Mickey Noe went too far when he spanked his 10-year-old son and left bruises on the boy's leg.

Researchers with the University of North Carolina could find only one similar charge against a principal, which was later dismissed. North Carolina educators have immunity from criminal conviction unless the punishment caused or is likely to cause permanent injury, or the punishment was given out of malice.

State law forbids educators from being sued for damages for corporal punishment-related injuries unless they could have foreseen that the punishment might cause permanent injury.

Robeson County's policy says a teacher, principal or assistant principal can administer corporal punishment, but only after lesser punishments have been tried. The student must have been warned that a spanking might result if further misbehavior is observed. Spankings must be given in the presence of a principal, assistant principal or teacher, and parents must give school officials permission beforehand.

Spare the rod

The parent in the Clay County incident gave the principal permission to spank his child. And for that reason, East Robeson Elementary Principal James Coleman says the state should ban corporal punishment administered by school officials.

Coleman, like many Robeson County principals, said he prefers allowing parents to come to school and spank their child. West Lumberton's principal agreed.

"I've worked too long and hard to jeopardize my career," said Clark. "We live in a day and age where educators have to walk a fine line when administering corporal punishment. Too many people are looking at every avenue to sue to get a little extra money."

There are 650 students at East Robeson School. Coleman said about 130 parents sign the corporal punishment form each school year. Of the parents who sign the form giving school officials permission to spank their child, Coleman said less than 5 percent of those students receive a spanking.

"It's a last resort. I would rather see it removed from the schools," Coleman said. "There's too many factors involved. We have a child for eight hours. I don't know what that child goes through the other 16. I don't know if that child has been abused at home or what the situation is when the child comes into my office. There are a lot of medical concerns, too."

Larece Hunt, principal at Janie Hargrave Elementary, cited the difference in students' physical makeups.

"I would rather have the parents do it because some students have different skin texture and bruise easier than other students," Hunt said.

Out of view

Union Chapel Elementary Principal Virginia Emanuel said embarrassment and humiliation suffered by the student are among the reasons corporal punishment is rarely used.

"It's become a very sensitive issue," said Emanuel, who started her education career in 1972.

Twenty years ago, students were spanked in front of their classmates. Today, the school system's policy requires spankings to be administered privately.

"Nowadays, parents aren't allowed to punish their own kids at home without someone calling Social Services," Emanuel said.

Emanuel believes school spankings will "disappear in the next couple of years."

Connie Chavis' son is a fifth-grader at Union Chapel Elementary. Chavis signed the form giving school officials permission to spank him. Chavis said she doesn't have a problem with corporal punishment as a last resort.

"I am for it if it's done the proper way ... on the behind and if a witness is present," Chavis said. "The decline in the use of corporal punishment is part of the reason why kids don't respect teachers as they used to anymore. Teachers need more control in the classroom."

Deese, the principal at Union Elementary, says children are exposed to more social problems, such as domestic violence, compared with 20 years ago, and corporal punishment may complicate the problem.

"It may have worked back then, but students then didn't have to cope with what they are having to cope with these days. We've got more children with severe problems that can't be solved with corporal punishment."

But not everybody believes corporal punishment should be phased out.

State Rep. Ronnie Sutton of Pembroke says he's a proponent of corporal punishment. He says it isn't a coincidence that discipline in the public schools began to spiral downward as the rod was spared.

"One of the worst things that happened in the schools was when restrictions were placed on corporal punishment," Sutton said. "It has lost its effectiveness. Thirty years ago, if you messed up, the teacher brought you up in front in the class bent over a desk and gave you three of four licks with the paddle. It worked, because the other students knew, if they screwed up, they would be subject to the same punishment."

Sutton says the lawsuit-happy environment is a product of society. He says teachers don't feel they have legal protection if they spank.

"Society is the one to blame for the way we treat corporal punishment," he said. "We are raising children that aren't used to being disciplined. We are putting them in time-out. There's nothing wrong with three or four licks with a paddle in the classroom.

"I believe the lack of effective corporal punishment in the classroom is more detrimental and has done more harm than taking prayer out of schools."

blob Follow-up: 12 October 2005 - Board scolded on spanking

Corpun file 13288

KTRE-TV online, Lufkin/Nacogdoches, Texas, 29 April 2004

Trinity County

Mom Angry Over Corporal Punishment

By Donna McCollum

Donna McCollum
Should schools be allowed to use corporal punishment against a child for misbehaving. Swats or pops, whatever you call them, are considered corporal punishment, and the practice is allowed under the law in Texas schools.

One Trinity County mother found the punishment more than she could bear when her 10 year old son came home black and blue.

When 10 year old Justin Causby stepped off a Groveton school bus on the fourth day of fifth grade there were tears in his eyes. Lynn Causby recalls the day. "and I said, 'What's wrong baby?' and he showed me what the coach had did to him and I just grabbed him and hugged him and fell to the floor and said 'Oh my God baby,' because it was horrible."

Justin was paddled after a classmate tattled about him saying a derogatory remark toward an elementary coach. Justin showed how he was made to stand holding a chair. "The coach made me stand like this and then he gave me three swats."

His mother has pictures of her son's buttocks with large bruises and redness. "He had these welts on him and these blood spots in his underwear and the big purple size bruise the size of a half a dollar. That's not a regular spanking."

A medical doctor documented that Justin's bruises were consistent with traumatic injury. Causby requested that her son never be hit again, but four days later Justin got into trouble for throwing a pencil. He received another pop on top of his already bruised bottom.

Causby said, "I was horrified. I didn't think he was safe there."

Causby doesn't excuse her son's behavior, but believes teachers were too excessive. "My son shouldn't have said what he did, but he also shouldn't have come home looking like he did either. When does corporal punishment stop and begin. This was a beating."

Causby is so upset over what happened that she now home schools Justin and is seeking legal action. "I'm not saying I would never spank him. If he need it, then yes, but there's a difference between a spanking and a beating."

If Justin gets in trouble now, he's told park the four wheeler. To him that's a pretty big deterrent to bad behavior.

Groveton Superintendent Jim Wise said that the district supports the use of corporal punishment. Wise contends that proper procedure was followed. He points out that a witness observed the paddling, and that the incident was handled properly.

Mrs. Causby did take the issue before the school board, but no action was taken.

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blob Follow-up: 19 May 2004 - Paddling Investigation -- Pros And Cons Of Pops

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