corpunWorld Corporal Punishment Research

ruler   :  Archive   :  2005   :  US Schools Mar 2005


School CP - March 2005

Corpun file 15308


Chicago Tribune, 6 March 2005

School orders mom to spank son -- or else

6-year-old suspended after mother refuses to spank him for numerous disciplinary infractions; instead she yanks him from school

By Diane Rado
Tribune staff reporter

mother with son
Michelle Fallaw-Gabrielson home teaches her son, Chandler, after taking him out of Schaumburg Christian School. The 6-year-old was suspended after she refused to spank him for disciplinary infractions.
(Tribune photo by George Thompson)

A 6-year-old boy who often talked too much in class was suspended from 1st grade at Schaumburg Christian School last week after his mother refused to spank him.

Chandler Scott Fallaw, a rambunctious boy, had been piling up disciplinary notes for talking, chewing gum, bringing toys to class and not finishing classwork, said his mother, Michelle Fallaw-Gabrielson. "By no means is my child perfect," she acknowledged.

But she never anticipated the ultimatum delivered at school Wednesday.

When she arrived to pick up Chandler, she said, assistant administrator Linda Moreau told her the school needed assurances that the boy would be disciplined. "She said, 'Either he gets a spanking before he leaves today, or I'm suspending him,'" Fallaw-Gabrielson recalled.

She said she refused to spank her son and left with the assistant administrator calling after her: "You know he's suspended, and that's a very serious matter on his record."

Fallaw-Gabrielson withdrew Chandler from the school the next day.

"I was so shocked that they were putting me in this situation," she said.

As a Christian, Fallaw-Gabrielson knows well the old saying "spare the rod and spoil the child." But she can't bring herself to spank Chandler and uses alternative disciplinary measures instead, such as time-outs and taking away toys.

The American Civil Liberties Union in Illinois and other groups that follow the corporal punishment issue say what happened to Chandler and his mother appears to be legal, though highly unusual. Private schools have wide discretion in discipline matters, they said, and parents agree to school policies when they enroll their children.

Handbook spells out discipline

At Schaumburg Christian School, a ministry of Bethel Baptist Church that serves about 1,300 preschool to 12th-grade students, "parent-administered corporal punishment" is part of the disciplinary system for pre-kindergarten through 6th-grade children. The parent/student handbook states that "When this becomes necessary, parents will be asked to administer this form of punishment."

Parents also sign a "statement of cooperation" that lists parent-administered corporal punishment among its disciplinary guidelines.

Still, Fallaw-Gabrielson said it's not clear in any of the literature or presentations that parents would be given an ultimatum that could lead to their child's suspension.

Assistant Administrator Moreau declined to comment for this story and referred calls to school administrator Randy Thaxton.

Thaxton said: "Our policies are reasonable. They are legal; they are in writing." He stressed that he could not discuss any student disciplinary case specifically, but said the school, as a last resort, does give parents the option of spanking their children or accepting a one-day suspension.

"When it gets to the point where the teacher can't solve the problem in the classroom, and the administration can't solve the problem, we ask parents to fix the problem," he said. "We'd say, `look, our policy is you have an option. You can spank your child, or we will suspend him for the day.'"

However, that situation is rare, Thaxton said. "We've had five students, of 565 in the first through 6th grades, in this position because of long-term, unacceptable behavior," he said.

The case adds a twist to the emotional debate on corporal punishment that has played out nationwide for decades.

Parents remember spanking

While parents growing up in the 1950s and 1960s may recall getting spanked at home and paddled at school, the practice has increasingly declined.

Just over half the states have banned corporal punishment by school officials since the 1970s, with Illinois taking that action in 1994. Organizations for and against corporal punishment say that, with limited exceptions, the state bans in Illinois and elsewhere do not apply to private schools.

However, Illinois State Board of Education general counsel Jonathan Furr said Friday that Illinois case law suggests the ban could apply to private schools, though he cannot conclude that without more research.

In any case, an increasing number of private schools are shying away from corporal punishment, said Burt Carney, director for legal/legislative issues for the Colorado-based Association of Christian Schools International. His organization recently voted to discourage its member schools from using corporal punishment "because of today's litigious society and changing views on what is appropriate."

Thaxton said school officials do not administer corporal punishment at Schaumburg Christian. Under the school policy, the parents do any spanking.

Even so, the school should be concerned about liability if a child is seriously injured by a parent on campus, said Nadine Block, a former school psychologist and executive director of the Ohio-based Center for Effective Discipline, which works to eliminate corporal punishment.

Thaxton said the school has never been sued in the 11 years he's been in charge and that enrollment has more than doubled from 600 students--proof that parents want an academically challenging and disciplined environment.

The school started in 1971 as a preschool and grew to 12 grades by 1980. Parents agree to rules that include no physical contact between male and female students before, during or after school, and no rock music for junior and senior high students. Such music promotes rebellion, alcohol and drug use and other misbehavior, according to the school.

It goes back to Bible

Corporal punishment has a basis in the Bible, said Thaxton, pointing to a phrase in Proverbs 13:24 in the leather-bound Bible on his desk: "He that spareth his rod hateth his son." Inside one desk drawer, he keeps two paddles -- a ping-pong paddle, and a larger, lightweight wooden paddle that can be used for spanking.

Around the school Friday, a diverse group of students quietly and diligently worked in cheerfully decorated classrooms. Elementary class sizes average 22 or 23 students; high school classes are even smaller. A group of kindergarten students was reading, and 1st graders were reading text that included words such as carpenter, scientists and missionary.

Fallaw-Gabrielson, Chandler's mother, praised the school's academic program. At home Friday--the boy is being home-schooled until the family moves to Aurora next month--Chandler was doing exercises on punctuation and capitalization.

One of the problems, his mother said, was that the school did not deal creatively with a rowdy but polite 6-year-old who tests at the 3rd-grade level and may have been restless and bored.

Between September and March, Chandler got 20 "Tally Reports" outlining his misbehavior at school.

Many were for talking too much in class. "Chandler had a bad day today. He talked all day," one said. Another said: "Chandler has been showing off all day."

Another reported that Chandler brought gum to school, which isn't allowed. "He offered gum to me," the teacher wrote. When she declined, he began chewing it himself.

Fallaw-Gabrielson said some of his behavior could stem from changes in the boy's life -- she had been a single mother raising Chandler and recently married.

Each time he gets into trouble, she tries to be consistent in her disciplinary approach. But she remains steadfast in refusing to spank him.

"I'm a huge communicator," she said, "and I feel like physical is not the answer."

Copyright © 2005, The Chicago Tribune

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The Detroit News, Michigan, 6 March 2005

Paddles might work better in classrooms than Commandments

By Nolan Finley
The Detroit News

Nolan Finley

Best I can recall, the Ten Commandments were not posted in any of the schools I attended while growing up.

But there were paddles hanging from the wall of every classroom -- that I remember very well.

There was no standard-issue model. The paddles reflected the individual tastes of their wielders.

Some were long and skinny, for those who favored velocity over heft. Others were wide, for maximum coverage. Some had holes drilled through the surface to cut down on wind resistance, and many were personalized with war colors or the signatures of their victims.

A few even had notches along the edges.

These were not ceremonial artifacts. They were working tools, kept within easy reach and pulled down with regularity to enforce the only commandment that mattered in our world then: Thou shalt not push the teacher over the edge.

We also knew well the formula for escalating punishment -- for every stroke you got at school, you got two more at home. Nobody filed a lawsuit against a teacher in those days for making a kid mind.

Paddles have long been vanquished from America's classrooms and most homes. Perhaps for the best.

But I suspect that at least some of the decline in our schools can be traced to the inability of teachers to maintain classroom order with a good, strong forehand.

There are some who think the answer to restoring discipline and moral behavior is to display the Ten Commandments in schools and other public spaces.

Advocates went before the U.S. Supreme Court last week to make their case.

It's a waste of effort, even if they prevail. Simply carving words in marble won't guarantee children will read them, or that they'll buy the idea that life should be lived by a specific moral rule set.

They won't get that from words set in stone. For the commandments to have any impact on children, they have to see adults living by them.

In the house I grew up in, a plaque of the Ten Commandments, the words embossed on a gold background, hung in the hallway. There was another one in my grandmother's living room and in the homes of most of my friends and relatives.

But I can't say I ever bothered to read to the bottom of any of those tablets.

I didn't really need to. I was raised by people who knew the commandments by heart and who darn sure wouldn't spare the rod when I got crossways of a few of them.

Maybe everyone, school children included, would act better if everywhere they went they bumped into a list of the "Thou shalts." But I doubt it.

After the first few encounters, the words would blur into the wallpaper. Nobody would notice, let alone stop to read them.

You can't say that about paddles, though.

Hang a paddle on the wall, and it's hard to take your eyes off of it. Take it from someone who remembers the sting of wood hitting the sweet spot.

Maybe there's a better idea here.

Forget the plaques. Carve the Ten Commandments on paddles, and hang those in classrooms.

At least there'd be a passing chance they'll get read.

Nolan Finley is editorial page editor of The News.

Copyright © 2005 The Detroit News.

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Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Pennsylvania, 9 March 2005

State ban on paddling unruly students not yet approved

By Lillian Thomas
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette


Though the paddle wielded against unruly students is a rarity in Pennsylvania schools, members of the state House Education Committee are reluctant to hang it up altogether.

The committee canceled a meeting scheduled for yesterday to discuss an update to education regulations because members are uncomfortable with a provision that would prohibit corporal punishment in schools. They also have concerns about changes to regulations on students' freedom of expression.

Because of those concerns, expressed in a heated hearing last month, the State Board of Education withdrew the proposed changes and plans to rework them.

Corporal punishment is an issue that gets people on both sides riled up, even though evidence indicates that it's not used that frequently in the districts that permit it.

The state allows districts to set policy and does not keep data on which districts permit corporal punishment, but a Temple University study conducted several years ago found that about 400 of 501 school districts prohibited it.


Current Pennsylvania regulations let districts set policy on corporal punishment, but in all cases parents must be notified and can tell the district in writing that they do not want their children subjected to corporal punishment. The proposed change would prohibit corporal punishment except in self-defense, to break up a fight, to gain control of a weapon or other dangerous object, or to protect people or property.

Districts contacted for this article that permit corporal punishment said it is used sparingly.

"It is rarely used but we do permit it," said Deborah Kolonay, superintendent of Penn-Trafford schools.

The instrument is a paddle and the principal administers it. It is not used at all at the elementary level, and no more than 10 times a year at the middle school level and 10 times a year at the high school level, she said.

The district's policy is in the student handbook and in a newsletter sent out each school year. In recent years, from one to 20 families have notified the district that they wished to opt out, Kolonay said.

"It is used as a last resort, and this after consultation with parents and discussion between the principal and the parents," she said.

State Rep. Jess Stairs, R-Mount Pleasant, chairman of the House Education Committee, said he hadn't polled his members on the issue. But at the hearing Feb. 23, some were specifically in favor of retaining corporal punishment, while others said they were reluctant to infringe on the right of individual school districts to set disciplinary policy.

He said he shared the latter concern, seeing it as a "balance of power" issue in which the executive branch was usurping legislative branch powers.

Stairs said he would meet with education committee members as well as members of the State Board of Education.

"We do want to draft a letter, so they can be a little closer to what we want," he said.


The Associated Press contributed. Copyright © 1997-2004 PG Publishing Co., Inc. All Rights Reserved.

blob Follow-up: 18 March 2005 - State school board suggests ban on corporal punishment

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The Charlotte Observer, N. Carolina, 10 March 2005

Union schools: Paddling unlikely

Critics skeptical, insist ban would be better

By Emily S. Achenbaum
Staff Writer

The status of corporal punishment in Union County schools: It's still on the books, but some say it's not likely to be used.

The Tuesday failure of efforts before the school board to abolish or revise the district's corporal punishment policy means "principals are in the same position they've been in," said Superintendent Jerry Thomas.

Thomas already had suspended corporal punishment after getting elementary school principals to agree not to use it. He said high schools and almost all middle schools had long ago stopped using corporal punishment. One remaining middle school was responsible for half the county's 474 incidents in 2003-04, but that principal has retired.

So while corporal punishment is still valid in Union, some think school administrators won't be reaching for the paddle again after all the attention Union has received.

"I'd be really surprised if principals use it at all," said board member Tripp Helms, who voted to abolish. "Let the policy die in the book."

The "it's allowed, but we won't do it" stance isn't sitting too well with some parents who wanted the punishment abolished.

"How are we going to trust them? Where's the accountability?" said parent Peggy Dean, a mother of four who has led the effort to abolish corporal punishment. Dean said she didn't find the agreement to be binding.

Others said that even if educators pledge not to use the punishment, the board should have gone a step farther to make a statement.

"(They) had the opportunity to pull their policies out of the dark ages," said Weddington parent Scott Chepko. "I feel embarrassed for the (board) and for how we in Union County are perceived within the state and country."

Board Chairman Phil Martin, who voted to keep corporal punishment, said he's disappointed the board couldn't agree to either abolish the policy or revise it. Five board members voted to abolish corporal punishment Tuesday. Four voted to keep it. But a two-thirds "supermajority" is required for a policy change, and no one on the divided board showed even a passing interest in budging.

"Until there is a change of heart by one or more board members, I don't think further discussion would be terribly productive," Martin said later.

Though the board is deadlocked, the issue of corporal punishment in Union County isn't necessarily over. The district's policy has been revised 11 times in the past decade, but it still lacks language required by state law.

State corporal punishment law requires students be told in advance what types of behavior could result in corporal punishment. It also requires school boards to make available a list of those behaviors for students and parents at the beginning of each school year. Union's policy doesn't do that.

The board did have a chance to revise the corporal punishment policy Tuesday, when Vice Chairman Dean Arp made a motion to pass a more exacting version.

It would have required written parental consent for the punishment, and would have included a reminder to "foster and nurture self-discipline among students." It also listed the types of behavior could result in the punishment, such as repeated class disruption and disrespect to faculty and staff.

Arp's motion failed, as some board members said they didn't want to be on record supporting the policy in any form.

Corporal punishment opponents nationally have been watching Union's policy for months, after a parental outcry led the schools to re-examine it.

Critics maintain that minorities, boys and other groups, such as the disabled, receive it at higher rates than others.

Proponents of corporal punishment describe it as a choice that school administrators and parents should have the right to make, and say it's more favorable than suspensions because children don't miss class time.

How Some Board Members Justified Their Votes:

For corporal punishment

John Crowder: "Corporal punishment is a tool that can be effective. It has served us well. Parents should have the opportunity (to choose)."

Monica Frank: "Some people like it, some don't. I'm one -- I like it. I think we should change some wording to satisfy everyone."

Phil Martin, chairman: Martin said he wanted to remind the board that spanking isn't abusive. Spanking is, "a few swipes, with the intention to correct ... with love and concern."

(Note: Corporal punishment opponents consider spanking -- which involves a hand -- and corporal punishment that employs an object to be different things.)


John Collins: As a former teacher, "I administered it several times. In almost every case, I spent at least a sleepless night wondering whether I made the right decision. I can truthfully say, I never spent a sleepless night over not using corporal punishment."

Tripp Helms: "We're not elected to tell parents whether we think spanking is right or wrong. It's a decision we should return to the home."

Carolyn Lowder: "Our superintendent has recommended (abolishing) it. I'd love to see this board move forward."

Kim Rogers: "In what evidence are we basing the support of this practice?"

blob Follow-up: 2 January 2007 - Union County Schools Ban Corporal Punishment

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The New York Times, 10 March 2005

College Expels Student Who Advocated Corporal Punishment

By Patrick D. Healy

Michael J. Okoniewski for The New York Times
Scott McConnell, on the campus of Le Moyne College in Syracuse, advocated corporal punishment in a paper he wrote as a student. The college dismissed him.

SYRACUSE, March 8 - As a substitute teacher in the public schools here, Scott McConnell says students are often annoyed that he does not let them goof off in class. Yet he was not prepared for the sixth grader who walked up to his desk in November, handed in an assignment, and then swore at him.

The profanity transported him back to his own days at Robert E. Lee Elementary School in Oklahoma in the 1980's, when there was a swift solution for wiseacres: the paddle.

"It was a footlong piece of wood, and hung on every classroom wall like a symbol, a strong Christian symbol," said Mr. McConnell, who is 26. "Nobody wanted that paddle to come down."

He said he had been a disruptive student, and routinely mouthed off until his fourth-grade teacher finally gave him three whacks to the backside. Physically, it did not hurt. But he felt humiliated and humbled.

"I never wanted that again," Mr. McConnell recalled. "It was good for me."

Supporting corporal punishment is one thing; advocating it is another, as Mr. McConnell recently learned. Studying for a graduate teaching degree at Le Moyne College, he wrote in a paper last fall that "corporal punishment has a place in the classroom." His teacher gave the paper an A-minus and wrote, "Interesting ideas - I've shared these with Dr. Leogrande," referring to Cathy Leogrande, who oversaw the college's graduate program.

Unknown to Mr. McConnell, his view of discipline became a subject of discussion among Le Moyne officials. Five days before the spring semester began in January, Mr. McConnell learned that he had been dismissed from Le Moyne, a Jesuit college.

"I have grave concerns regarding the mismatch between your personal beliefs regarding teaching and learning and the Le Moyne College program goals," Dr. Leogrande wrote in a letter, according to a copy provided by Mr. McConnell. "Your registration for spring 2005 courses has been withdrawn."

Dr. Leogrande offered to meet with Mr. McConnell, and concluded, "Best wishes in your future endeavors."

If the letter stunned Mr. McConnell, the "best wishes" part turned him into a campaigner. A mild-mannered former private in the Army, Mr. McConnell has taken up a free-speech banner with a tireless intensity, casting himself as a transplant from a conservative state abused by political correctness in more liberal New York. He also said that because he is an evangelical Christian, his views about sparing the rod and spoiling the child flowed partly from the Bible, and that Le Moyne was "spitting on that."

He is working with First Amendment groups to try to pressure Le Moyne into apologizing and reinstating him, and is considering legal action as well as a formal appeal to the college. He says Le Moyne misconstrued his views: he believes children should not be paddled without their parents' permission. He said that even then, the principal, as the school's head disciplinarian, should deliver the punishment.

"Judges live in the real world, and I think they would see that Scott got an A-minus on his paper and was expressing views on a campus that supports academic freedom," said David French, president of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, a group based in Philadelphia that is supporting Mr. McConnell. "It's hard to see a court looking kindly on Scott's expulsion."

Dr. Leogrande did not respond to telephone messages. Le Moyne's provost, John Smarrelli, said the college had the right as a private institution to take action against Mr. McConnell because educators had grave concerns about his qualifications to teach under state law.

old cartoon of school paddling: CLICK FOR FULL SIZE - will open in a new window
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New York is one of 28 states that ban corporal punishment; most of those that allow it are in the South and West. Most states did not ban corporal punishment until the late 1980's, after parents, educators, and other advocates began pressing for the laws. More than 342,000 students received corporal punishment in the 1999-2000 school year, in the most recent figures from the federal Education Department.

Because it has an accredited school of education, moreover, Le Moyne officials said that the college was required to pledge that its graduates will be effective and law-abiding teachers who will foster a healthy classroom environment.

"We have a responsibility to certify people who will be in accordance with New York State law and the rules of our accrediting agencies," Mr. Smarrelli said. In Mr. McConnell's case, he said, "We had evidence that led us to the contrary."

Mr. McConnell said that he had been only conditionally admitted to the graduate program; typically, such students earn full admission by earning good grades and meeting other requirements. Mr. McConnell added that he had earned mostly A's and his fate rested largely on his November paper.

Mr. Smarrelli said that the paper itself was "legitimate" and "reasonable," because the assignment sought Mr. McConnell's plan for managing a classroom. Yet Mr. McConnell's views were clearly not in the mainstream of most teachers' colleges.

For example, many educators focus on nurturing students' self-esteem, but Mr. McConnell scoffed at that idea in his paper. He said he would not favor some students over others, regardless of any special needs some might have.

"I will help the child understand that respect of authority figures is more important than their self-esteem," he wrote.

Some professors and college officials were also concerned that Mr. McConnell wrote that he opposed multiculturalism, a teaching method that places emphasis on non-Western cultures.

In an interview, Mr. McConnell said he disliked "anti-American multiculturalism," and gave as an example a short story on the Sept. 11 attacks intended for classroom use. The story, published in a teachers' magazine in 2002 by the National Council for the Social Studies, was about young American boys teasing an Iraqi boy named Osama.

Mr. Smarrelli said Le Moyne had to ensure that its students had the judgment, aptitude, temperament and other skills to succeed in challenging their students.

But Dr. Smarrelli acknowledged that Le Moyne had not warned students like Mr. McConnell that they could be removed for expressing controversial beliefs, nor had the college said that education students must oppose corporal punishment or support multiculturalism.

Joseph P. Frey, the assistant commissioner for quality assurance in the New York State Education Department, who monitors colleges and graduate schools, said he could not offer an opinion on the McConnell case because he did not know the specifics.

Mr. Frey said: "One valid question is, 'Is the paper an academic exercise in terms of theories of education, or is it a belief that this is how Mr. McConnell will carry out corporal punishment in the classroom no matter what?'"

Mr. Frey added, however, that private colleges have broad latitude in accepting or rejecting students. And he said that graduate education schools might face a threat to their accreditation, or legal action by school districts, if they produce teachers who fall into trouble.

During an interview at the kitchen table in the comfortable suburban home he shares with his wife, Liz, a dentist, Mr. McConnell said he had wanted to instill civic virtues in students in the same way his teachers had in him.

As a child, he moved from Texas to Florida and then to Oklahoma as his mother pursued failed marriages to "bad men," he said. Teachers became a source of stability and life lessons. They taught him to read, to respect others, and to serve his country by inspiring him to join the Army.

"Because I didn't talk and think the same way that Le Moyne did, because I didn't drink their Kool-Aid, I received the ultimate punishment," Mr. McConnell said. "Corporal punishment is nothing compared to this."

Copyright 2005 The New York Times Company

blob Follow-up: 19 January 2006 - Slap-happy 'Teach' Wins

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Springfield News-Leader, Missouri, 12 March 2005

Around the Ozarks

Board votes to end corporal punishment

The Nixa school board unanimously voted Thursday night to ban corporal punishment in the district's schools, Superintendent Stephen Kleinsmith said.

Kleinsmith cautioned that school officials weren't casting judgement on how parents punish their children at home, saying "that is their right."

But a wealth of scientific and educational research "shows without a shadow of doubt that this is an inappropriate practice of discipline for a public school to use," Kleinsmith said.

"We know better and so we should do better," he said.

There were six paddlings in Nixa schools last year, Kleinsmith said.

Copyright © 2005, The Springfield News-Leader, a Gannett Company.

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Fort Stockton Pioneer, Texas, 17 March 2005

Pioneer Readers Write

Too many 'swats' at Intermediate?

In light of recent events at Fort Stockton Intermediate School, we as parents of children who attend there have decided to come forward and make other parents aware of the policy regarding corporal punishment.

Are you aware that you as a parent must send a handwritten letter that you do not agree with your child being subject to corporal punishment? We were also informed by a representative of administration that "Everybody makes mistakes" and could not guarantee our children would not suffer from corporal punishment.

The form to agree or disagree with corporal punishment is nonexistent at Fort Stockton Intermediate School. You may have signed a form at other elementary or secondary schools. But this form is not available for you to sign at Intermediate. Even though Intermediate falls under the elementary status for Fort Stockton Independent School District. Are you aware of this?

Teachers have asked repeatedly for a type of form regarding corporal punishment and they are still waiting. Are you also aware that a certain teacher may feel your child's behavior warrants a "swat" and may give it without any prior approval by you and at anywhere or time he sees fit to give a swat? This is even before you have any prior knowledge of your child's so-called behavior - horseplay, not following directions or talking - so you may be able to be a part of the solution to the problem. The swat-happy teacher as always, this is his first resort... always, not the last. According to the student code of conduct this is the last resort.

Why do we know this? Because we have experienced it first-hand in the last few weeks. In our own investigation, we have come across several parents whose child has undergone and suffered from these same exact incidents as previously mentioned. A note or pink slip was sent home after the fact. We have also found that all of the parents we have talked to are not aware of what they have to do to ensure their child does not undergo the same circumstances. Even if you have a child who has never been in trouble before, he or she is still subject to this type of punishment.

As a mother, I, Elizabeth Rosas, was made aware of this nonexistent form at Intermediate last year. I went through the proper procedure at that time and now at the beginning of this school year to send a letter to ensure this would not happen to my children. But to date Fort Stockton Intermediate School could not produce my letter! How's that for filing such an important document that was supposed to assure me my child was not subject to this type of discipline... Remember a statement was made "everybody makes mistakes." We say there should be no room for these mistakes!

But we are on a campaign to change this and to make this teacher accountable for his actions. We are doing this to assure this does not happen to any other child again. But we need your help! Has this happened to your child, and are you thinking you signed a form at Intermediate regarding corporal punishment?

To agree or disagree? We have always agreed with corporal punishment and with full trust in our school. That trust has been destroyed. We are against corporal punishment without parent contact beforehand. Please let us know! You may contact Sophia Franco at 940-2370 or Elizabeth Rosas at 336-2558. Something needs to be resolved regarding this situation and someone will be held accountable for the unwarranted assault that has taken place with our children and our future children who will be attending Fort Stockton Intermediate School.

Elizabeth Rosas
Sophia Franco

Fort Stockton

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The Christian Science Monitor, Boston, MA, 17 March 2005

To paddle or not to paddle? It's still not clear in US schools

By Stacy A. Teicher
Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor

When it comes to spanking, there's no such thing as a consensus in America's schools.

Twenty-seven states and the District of Columbia have outlawed corporal punishment in public schools, all in the past 40 years.

But as the number of students feeling the sting of the paddle declines, some parents and educators are digging in to defend it as an effective form of discipline.

It's another symbol of the nation's red-blue divide. Most states that still allow the practice are in the South and Midwest. But policies long favoring corporal punishment have come up for debate recently on Southern school boards -- in Union County, N.C.; Memphis, Tenn.; and Dallas.

"It's very uneven terrain out there," says Ronald Rohner, who is not pro or con but has researched the issue as director of the University of Connecticut's Center for the Study of Parental Acceptance and Rejection. "There's a movement back to it on the part of some schools, but some are banning it for the first time.... We'll be hearing more and more about this as time goes by."

Two recent cases show how strong the passions are on both sides, and how individuals can sometimes find themselves up against the prevailing local standard:

• In Chicago, the mother of a 6-year-old was called in to his private Christian school after he received multiple disciplinary notes for talking in class, chewing gum, and not completing assignments, the Chicago Tribune reported last week.

The mother said an administrator told her to spank her son there at the office or he would be suspended. The corporal punishment policy is in the school's handbook, but the mother was surprised by the ultimatum. She does not practice spanking and has withdrawn her son from the school.

• Scott McConnell, a graduate student in the education program of Le Moyne College in Syracuse, N.Y., was told he could not continue because of a mismatch between the college's goals and his personal beliefs about teaching. One of those beliefs (expressed in a paper that received an A-minus) was that corporal punishment has a place in classroom discipline.

Corporal punishment is not allowed in New York public schools, but he says he didn't advocate practicing it in violation of the law.

The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), a Philadelphia group, has taken up his case as a matter of academic freedom, and he hopes to be readmitted.

Mr. McConnell says his view is partly based on his own transformation from rude to respectful after being paddled by a caring teacher in the fourth grade.

Many defenders cite the Bible as their guide, saying that if a child needs correction, it's not loving to spare the rod.

"If the spanking can be done by an individual who knows the child and the child's parents, as is often the case in private schools and Christian schools, and if the parents wish that to be done, then it can be appropriate as long as it's in the proper context," says DuBose Ravenel, a pediatrician in High Point, N.C., and an adviser to the evangelical group Focus on the Family.

Dr. Ravenel does not support school corporal punishment for teenagers, and says it generally should be used only on children under 10.

Other proponents say it's practical for parents to be able to opt for the quick lesson of corporal punishment, rather than to have the student miss classes because of suspension.

Opponents counter that the practice is too likely to lead to abuse, and that schools should be better role models.

"In the past 30 years, we have gotten better at understanding what makes kids tick.... We've got some alternatives to spanking ... and educators have a responsibility to teach kids how to solve problems without resorting to spanking," says Sal Severe, a veteran school psychologist and parent educator.

A number of child-advocacy groups have positions similar to the National Association of School Psychologists, which states that "corporal punishment negatively affects the social, psychological and educational development of students and contributes to the cycle of child abuse and pro-violence attitudes of youth."

Research weighs heavily in favor of alternatives, says Nadine Block, executive director of the Center for Effective Discipline in Columbus, Ohio. "The big catchword today is evidence-based practices, and there's no evidence to support corporal punishment in schools.... If it works, it should work the first time. They hit the same kids over and over."

Too often, she says, it's not used as a last resort, despite what policies dictate. And in some districts, "they don't allow parents to opt out."

A charter school student has sued in Texas, claiming she was injured after being restrained and hit with a wooden paddle known as "Ole Thunder," the San Antonio Express-News reports. Although her mother had signed a form permitting corporal punishment, the student had since turned 18, and claims that as an adult the school needed her consent.

Another common criticism is that racial minorities, children with disabilities, and boys bear the brunt of corporal punishment.

At one elementary school in Union County, for instance, black children were 47 percent of the student body but received 82 percent of the paddling in 2003-04, according to an analysis by the Charlotte Observer.

The superintendent has suspended corporal punishment until the school board revises or eliminates the policy.

Although experts say that 80 to 90 percent of American parents have resorted to spanking at one point or another, the trend toward alternative forms of discipline at home -- everything from "timeouts" to taking away privileges - has led to less corporal punishment at schools, too.

Between 1980 and 2000, the number of students struck in US public schools declined from 1.4 million to 342,000, according to analysis by the Center for Effective Discipline of data from the US Department of Education.

Two states -- New Jersey and Iowa -- ban the practice in private schools. But even where it's legal, some private schools are shifting away from corporal punishment for pragmatic reasons.

In its next newsletter, the Colorado-based Association of Christian Schools International plans to advise its member schools (including 4,000 in the US) against paddling.

"It's in recognition of the highly litigious society we're in right now," says Burt Carney, the group's director for legal and legislative issues. "It's just probably wiser for schools not to use that type of punishment."

Copyright © 2005 The Christian Science Monitor. All rights reserved.

Corpun file 15388


Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Pennsylvania, 18 March 2005

State school board suggests ban on corporal punishment

By Gabrielle Banks
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

The state board of education voted overwhelming [sic] yesterday to recommend a ban on corporal punishment in public schools.

It now will be up to the state Legislature to decide whether to outlaw the practice, which is illegal in 28 states and the District of Columbia.

Lest there be doubt among legislators, the board members spelled out that students who misbehave may not be "spanked, paddled or hit" with the intent "to cause pain." Currently, it is left to individual school districts to decide whether to allow the practice.

"It's an archaic and ineffective tool on children. We don't allow adults to hit one another with boards, even to hit animals with boards. It will bring Pennsylvania into the 21st century," said Nadine Block, founder of the Center for Effective Discipline in Ohio. Block said Missouri, Indiana and Texas are also considering anti-paddling laws.

Board of education members voted 13-1 in favor of the changes, after grappling with the language on the state law books on and off since 1996. Part of what stalled the decision was an ongoing debate about a provision in Chapter 12 of the code, which would limit students' free speech if they were threatening someone's safety or encouraging illegal activities.

The one holdout on the paddling language, Larry Wittig, agreed with the others that corporal punishment should never be applied out of anger, revenge or frustration. He said it should be up to each district to decide whether to have it on the books as a possible deterrent.

Rep. Ronald Miller, R-York, who will be weighing in on the issue in the House in the next couple of weeks, said school punishments worked for him. "We were worried about embarrassing our parents if we got paddled in school," said Miller.

Advocates of the practice did not offer data to back up the deterrence argument.

The practice is seldom used. State schools reported 90 cases of corporal punishment last year. Only 9 percent of children live in districts that administer physical punishment, most of them in southwestern Pennsylvania, according to a study by the National Center for the Study of Corporal Punishment.

"The myth is that it's going to be a teacher who has tried everything and is exasperated, who paddles with forethought," said Samuel Knapp, who has studied the issue on behalf of the Pennsylvania Psychological Association. "That's not really what happens."

The proposed changes must clear the House and Senate education committees before the Legislature votes on Chapter 12.

Copyright © 1997-2004 PG Publishing Co., Inc. All Rights Reserved.

blob Follow-up: 7 October 2005 - Board approves ban on spanking

Corpun file 15426

Tri-City Tribune, Marked Tree, Arkansas, 25 March 2005

EPC School Board discusses alternative school, hires principal

By Angela McIllwain
Tribune News Staff


Alternative learning environment, in school suspension policies, and athletic field conditions were major topics of discussion at the East Poinsett County School Board Meeting held Monday, March 14.


The board also addressed concerns about discipline administered to students who have been in a fight on school property or at a school function. In the first instance the student in a fight is sent to the principles [sic] office to get a paddling. With a second offense, in school suspension is automatic regardless of the circumstances.

Looking to the future, board members discussed the possibility of extending the school day by 15 minutes and offering students eight period of classes, rather than the seven periods currently offered.


Copyright 2001. Tri-City Tribune. A division of the Northeast Arkansas News Group.

Corpun file 15476

logo (KOMU-TV), Columbia, Missouri, 25 March 2005

To Spank Or Not To Spank In School

Reporter: Matt Flener
Web Producer: Paul Matadeen

16 spankings in one year

In January, the New Franklin School Board told its principals to stop using corporal punishment in schools. The only problem is nobody has spanked a child in that district for more than 25 years even though the school's policy still allowed it.

Many Mid-Missouri schools do allow corporal punishment, but most do not use the paddle. Missouri is one of 21 states that still allow such punishment. Of the schools nearby, Tipton Elementary has the second-highest paddling rate in the area.

Bigger school districts do not allow corporal punishmentAmy Stover sends her sons to Tipton. Both work in school, and neither have ever seen the paddle usually sitting in the principal's office. She says, "I asked my sons if anyone knew of their child being paddled, and they don't." In order for a child to be punished, a decision must be made between the parent, child and school official on whether or not permission to "swat a child's buttocks" is given.

Tipton Superintendent, Paul Wootten, says, "If you go into a community and find that it's working, you'll find it's a plan that parents stand behind."

Tipton Elementary has the second highest paddling rate in the areaThe parent has to know about the punishment. Wootten says, "There is never a case in our school where a parent doesn't know their kid has been administered CP." Stover, the PTO president at Tipton, says that's fair. She says, "Since parents get to choose, I think the policy as it stands is a good one."

The policy to spank children, with influence from the home, is allowed in more than 65% of Mid-Missouri schools.

In that number, 35 schools allow corporal punishment but don't use it. Tipton is one of the 22 schools in Mid-Missouri that do use corporal punishment. In the past six years, principals at Tipton have spanked children 173 times, a number second to the Iberia School District which reported 229 cases. The next highest school on the list is North Callaway R-1 with 16 spankings in the past six years.

173 spankings

Tipton principals have spanked children 16 times just this year. Superintendent Paul Wootten says, "That's really interesting." When he saw the numbers, Tipton's superintendent says, "I can see where our district does use this more than some districts. But when you're talking 16 times with 600 students, that's not much." When you compare schools like Tipton and the rest of Mid-Missouri to schools in the southern part of the state, kids are not spanked nearly as much.

Many mid-Missouri schools allow corporal punisshmentAt the Poplar Bluff School District in southern Missouri, officials gave 680 paddlings in a two year period. Administrators say when they do spank a child, they'd rather make a bigger sound than impact to get the point across without hurting a child. However a different opinion can be found not far from Tipton. High Point R-3 shares the same county as Tipton, but not the same viewpoint.

Superintendent Toni Westbrooks says, "I feel like a school district and an administrator is setting themselves up for a potential lawsuit."

Westbrooks reinforces her district's no spanking policy to students and teachers. She says, "There are times when you say just give that kid a swat. But you have to stop and say, who's the adult here and who's the child." When a child acts up at a high point, that student sits away from the class and writes her or her emotions on a piece of paper, a punishment the first grade teacher likes. First Grade Teacher Cathy Kliethermes says, "If you can modify behavior without intimidation or negatives, why not."

Mother says she never spanks in angerAt the Stover household back in Tipton, the children's' mother says she's never spanked her children out of anger or intimidation. She also says the school should only use it as a last resort. "The child always has pre-warning, and the swats never take place the day of the action." She does agree, however, the school's discipline policy should reflect what happens at home. Stover says, "The reason why they've kept it in is because the parents wanted it in. And if it ever came to a point where the community doesn't want it in, I feel secure the school board would listen."

Bigger school districts like Columbia and Fulton do not allow corporal punishment in schools. However, there are some larger school districts that shun the popular myth that such punishment only happens in rural schools. One larger district says spanking is still OK while two of the smallest say it is not.

Many people are split over a piece of wood, a wooden stick. When a student starts talking too much in Kliethermes' class, she says she could never teach another lesson synonymous with wooden sticks. She says, "I don't feel like you have to intimidate a child in order for them to behave." Her school's policy, along with 28 other districts in Mid-Missouri, says don't spank children. High Point's superintendent quickly agrees with her co-worker. Westbrooks says, "It may be quicker to swat, but it never gets to the root of the issue."

Some students in New Franklin brag and grin about their unblemished records. However, if a student receives a few bad marks on a discipline history, top school officials say that's no reason to hit. Dr. Jeanie Gordon says, "I can hit you because I'm bigger? We don't want that!"

She says it's been at least 25 years since a school official paddled a child. 1980 is about the last time New Franklin School officials can remember corporal punishment being used in schools. However, as seasons have changed, the corporal punishment policy hadn't, until January of this year.

In January, Dr. Gordon noticed the policy books said she could still spank a child. She quickly asked the School Board to get rid of that language. She says, "What better place than the school with our kids to teach our kids to treat each other with respect." In a survey of each Mid-Missouri school district's policy on corporal punishment, 22 schools were found to have spanked children in the past six years. Those schools totaled 520 spankings.

The prevailing myth says only rural school districts use corporal punishment, though High Point R-3 in rural Moniteau and New Franklin in rural Howard counties do not. In fact, of the ten largest districts in Mid-Missouri, half allow corporal punishment. The biggest district to allow it is Jefferson City. Superintendent Dr. Bert Kimble says, "We're 39,000 people, but it seems smaller."

Dr. Kimble says community standards define the schools' policy on corporal punishment. He says, "I think we hold some very traditional values, some core values that many people still hold." Kimble continues, "Parents have many times asked us to administer corporal punishment as an option, rather than place a child in school." Those values sound the same in the High Point School District just 20 minutes away. Toni Westbrooks says, "People have been here for 100 years. They're well rooted in what they expect."

However, each school's spanking policies stand in opposition.

Dr. Kimble says, "Obviously the Superintendent of High Point disagrees with that." Based on recent changes in policy, New Franklin's superintendent disagrees as well. We asked New Franklin's Superintendent "Do you hope 10 years from now, there is no corporal punishment in schools?" She said, "I don't understand why there is now." For now, there remains a difference of understanding as to how to use a wooden stick to help a child learn. The policy allowing corporal punishment in Jefferson City and in most Mid-Missouri districts says principals must only use corporal punishment as a last resort and only with a parent's permission.

© KOMU-TV8 and the Missouri School of Journalism. Some information courtesy Associated Press

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