corpunWorld Corporal Punishment Research

ruler   :  Archive   :  2005   :  US Schools Jul 2005



School CP - July 2005

Corpun file 16204

The Spokesman-Review, Spokane, Washington State, 5 July 2005

Your turn

When paddle was used in school it served purpose -- and could today

By Gene Sivertson
Special to The Spokesman-Review

I do not understand the current-day animosity toward the use of a wooden paddle to instill discipline. Typically, in the first half of the 20th century, if a student found himself in trouble as a result of an encounter with a teacher, he knew he would be in far worse trouble when he returned home. He knew that whatever punishment he might have experienced at school, it would be at least twice as bad from his dad – and most kids had dads back then.

I am now 79. I lived about one mile from the elementary school I attended. I still recall the day, when I was in the fourth grade, that I was about 30 minutes late arriving because I dawdled along the way. A lady principal verbally lambasted me and gave me five whacks across my rear. That was the last day I was ever late to school.

Nearly every male of my generation will cite a similar tale regarding school experiences.

In 1947, I did my cadet teaching in mathematics at Rogers High School. My master teacher was a gentleman – literally a gentle man – who was considered the "Mr. Chips" at Rogers. When a student, always the boys back then, got out of line in Mr. Doolittle's class, he was given a choice of a hack or 30 minutes after school. I never once saw a boy choose the latter.

After the hack, the boy signed the paddle. To the boys, it was memorable to have been able to say your name was on that paddle.

When I look back upon my teen and preteen years, there were two primary things that kept me on the straight and narrow. First was the concern over how upset my mother would have been had I experienced trouble that would have caused her to feel shame.

The second was old-fashioned fear that I might get caught and physical punishment might be administered. Right or wrong, they kept me straight.

When my youngest daughter, now 52, was 7, I caught her smoking out in the garage in the family car. It was one of the few times in her life that I paddled her butt. To this day, she does not smoke.

There is a saying in education as it exists today: "Teachers are afraid of their principals. Principals are afraid of the superintendent. The superintendent is afraid of the school board. The school board is afraid of parents. Parents are afraid of their children. And students are afraid of no one."

I do not favor brutalizing a student for a serious misbehavior. But I do know that the greater the impressions imposed by a paddle on a student's posterior, the longer lasting will be the impression on the brain.

Corpun file 16231

New York Post, 7 July 2005

Coach Spanky busted - S.I. hoops abuse rap

By John Doyle, Jamie Schram and David Andreatta

A sleazy Staten Island high-school basketball coach has been arrested for abusing two 15-year-old players - by cutting a twisted deal in which he got to spank them when they missed shots, authorities said yesterday. Law-enforcement sources said they are also investigating complaints from three other teen-age boys alleging abuse at the hands of Drew Sanders, 49, whom police arrested Tuesday.

Prosecutors say they have a recorded phone conversation between Sanders and one of the alleged victims, in which the coach admits to smacking him - although Sanders denies the charges.

Police said Sanders, a hulking man who coaches the Tottenville HS varsity basketball team, made a bargain with one of the 15-year-old boys to pay him $10 for sinking a tough basket - but spank him on the bare buttocks if he missed.

The abuse took place on 23 occasions over the course of 13 months at the Jewish Community Center in Arden Heights, where Sanders is associate director and supervises basketball programs, according to a criminal complaint.

In the latest instance, on Monday, a teen suffered minor injuries when Sanders bent him over his lap and smacked him with a wooden pingpong paddle instead of his hand, authorities charged.

Cops arrested Sanders, who is married with three children, at his home after that boy's parents heard the sordid tale from their son and called police.

During the investigation, police found a second 15-year-old boy claiming to have been slapped on the buttocks by Sanders during a summer basketball camp last year.

Neither boy plays for the Tottenville Pirates, which Sanders has coached to the playoffs in seven of the last eight seasons, but had enrolled in his basketball programs, authorities said.

Sanders was hit with 23 counts of forcible touching and sexual abuse, and several other charges.

He pleaded not guilty at his arraignment and was freed on $15,000 bail.

"That a 15-year-old boy would let a man spank him for missing a basketball shot is the height of absurdity," said defense lawyer Mark Fonte.

Sanders has been suspended from his 16-year post at the JCC and barred from his $7,000-a-year coaching job by the city Education Department.

"Not only was he not a problem, he was beloved by everybody," said Lewis Stolzenberg, executive director of the JCC of Staten Island. "I am just shocked."

Copyright, 2005, New York Post

Corpun file 16139

Newsday, New York, 7 July 2005

Community stunned as HS coach charged with spanking players

By Lindsay Faber
Staff Wrier

A Staten Island coach and community figure has been arrested on charges of spanking teenage boys if they missed their basketball shots, officials said.

Drew Sanders, 49, of 50 Turf Rd. in the Heartland Village section, was charged with second-degree attempted assault, fourth-degree criminal possession of a weapon, 23 counts of forcible touching, 23 counts of third-degree sexual abuse and two counts of endangering the welfare of a child.

Authorities allege that on Monday, Sanders, who is an assistant executive director of the Staten Island Jewish Community Center, pulled down a 15-year-old boy's pants and slapped the boy in the behind with a wooden paddle.

That boy told authorities that the incident happened multiple times -- with Sanders throwing him over his knees and pulling his pants down while slapping him -- between June and September of last year, and again between April and July of this year.

Another boy contacted by police confirmed he too was victimized in June 2004.

Investigators said three other boys have come forward with complaints on Tuesday and Wednesday.

"Everybody is stunned, it's hard to believe," said Ruth Lasser, a spokeswoman for the Staten Island JCC. "He's a wonderful family guy. We love him. We're hoping that the allegations will prove not to be founded."

The JCC put Sanders on temporary suspension, officials there said.

The 6-foot-6, 250-pound Sanders is a married father of three.

He works as a Public Schools Athletic League basketball coach at Tottenville High School and does summer camp coaching at Susan Wagner High School.

Department of Education spokeswoman Kelly Devers said Sanders, not a full Department of Education employee, has been put on the "ineligible" list, meaning he can no longer be hired by the department.

"We've informed the schools that he should not be allowed to enter," Devers said.

Sanders faces at least up to 4 years in prison if convicted of the charges.

blob Follow-up: 12 July 2005 - More teens slap 'Coach Spanky'

Corpun file 16226

Huntsville Times, Alabama, 10 July 2005

Living Columnist Ricky Thomason

When licks meant beating, time out was recovery

Words are fluid things; their meanings melt and reform with time. Take this "time out" term. Aside from the "official clock stop" sports definition, a "time out" is now punishment for misbehaving children - a version of sitting in the corner, like Dennis the Menace. You smart-mouth your mom? You get time out.

The less-brain-damaged among us can remember when the "time out" wasn't the punishment - it was how many minutes it took to regain consciousness after the punishment.

Those words are tricky things all right. Remember that pre-beating phrase we hated so? "This is going to hurt me a lot more than it does you." I had time out for answering, "Well, that hardly seems fair. What say, this once, I suffer most; I'll flog you with that stick while you scream and beg."

Don't try this at home, kids, or at school, either. Learn from someone who learned everything the hard way. It's small consolation if they laugh at what you said while they beat you.

One thing adults abhor is a kid with a smart mouth. This goes double for public authority figures: teachers, cops and the like. One of the worst beatings I ever earned in school was - predictably - given me by a coach. (Notice: I said "earned." I had few beatings I didn't richly deserve.)

It may be different now, but when I was a puppy, coaches weren't the fastest fish in the school, verbally at least. Being former athletes, their utterances were pretty much limited to the clichs still heard on TV today: "Hi, Mom," "execute better," "make some plays," and "the Lord wanted us to win."

I only had eight or ten coaches in my school years, so I'll admit that my sample base wasn't very large. With the standard survey margin of error of plus-or-minus 3 percent, it's very possible that they were only 97% goofy.

Meanwhile, back to the beating. Part of this was due to the changing connotations of the word "lick," as in "to strike a blow."

I once had a coach of less than average stature whose given name was Richard. As kids, some Richards become Rickys, some Richeys, and some, like Mrs. Nixon's boy, are burdened otherwise. I mention this because of the less-than-bright little error I made in not nicknaming the diminutive coach after little Ricky Ricardo, or rock 'n' roll pioneer Little Richard.

Somehow - there's no shortage of rats around authorities - coach got wind of the sobriquet I'd bearded him with. I immediately topped his "10 most wanted" list. He didn't have to wait long before I slipped up, was in his clutches, completely at his mercy. Infamous for his paddle, in front of the whole snickering class, coach proudly announced that I would receive five licks.

One licks ice cream cones, popsicles, lollipops, boots, or spoons. Those, or any of a hundred other things, would have been better than my suggestion - made at his red-faced expense - to the vast amusement of the class.

Five minutes and ten licks later, I licked my wounds. My entire backside felt like hamburger meat, and I seriously pondered the meaning of "what price glory."

Ricky Thomason's human interest column runs in the Life section on Sundays.

Corpun file 16284

New York Post, 12 July 2005

More teens slap 'Coach Spanky'

By Erin Calabrese

The Staten Island hoops coach busted last week for allegedly spanking a teen with a pingpong paddle may have done the same to a number of others, sources said yesterday. "We've had several other people come to us," a law-enforcement source said.

One of Drew Sanders' latest accusers is now 19, and the statute of limitations may have ran [sic] out on his case, the source said.

Sanders, 49, is accused of abusing two 15-year-old boys in a summer league run by the Jewish Community Center in Arden Heights.

Cops said the Tottenville HS varsity-basketball coach offered one of the boys $10 to sink a shot - but a bare-bottom spanking if he missed. The kid missed, but Sanders didn't, allegedly bending him over his lap and smacking him with the paddle.

Cops got wind of the allegation after the boy told his parents. Sanders, a father of three, was arrested at home. He is charged with 23 counts of abuse over a 13-month period.

Copyright, 2005, New York Post

blob Follow-up: 16 September 2005 - Ex-basketball coach pleads guilty to spanking players

Corpun file 16168

The Tribune, Bay City, Texas, 13 July 2005

PISD [Palacios ISD] employees to get pay raises

By Erika Koenig
Bay City Tribune


PALACIOS — School trustees approved raises for all district employees Monday — the average raise for teachers will be about $2,000.


In other school board news:

• Trustees approved changes to the district's athletic handbook made by Treybig.

These changes included clarification of discipline procedures, regulations on cell phone use, a policy on club sports participation and the addition of corporal punishment as a discipline option.

Parents must sign a consent form to allow their child to receive corporal punishment.


Copyright 2005 The Bay City Tribune

Corpun file 16321

Montgomery Advertiser, Alabama, 14 July 2005

Corporal punishment: Parents can say no

By Antoinette Konz
Montgomery Advertiser


It's been outlawed in many states across the country, but if your children attend school in Alabama they may be subjected to a paddle on the behind if they misbehave in the classroom.

"I was very surprised when I moved here from the Midwest and found out that principals are allowed to spank children," said Melanie Davis, a parent whose daughter attends Goodwyn Junior High School in Montgomery. "I just don't think it's part of a principal's job to spank a child."

Alabama law permits the use of corporal punishment in schools, but leaves the discretion on whether it is administered to individual school districts. Corporal punishment is used in several central Alabama schools, including some in the tri-county area.

Soon after Davis enrolled her daughter at Goodwyn, she found out that she had the right to refuse the form of discipline as punishment for her child, but she would have to submit a written letter to the principal first.

According to Montgomery County Board of Education's policy, corporal punishment may be administered unless the parent or guardian files a written, dated objection with the school principal and that "corporal punishment may be administered after the nature of the offense has been explained to the student."

State accountability numbers released earlier this year showed that more than 1,700 Montgomery Public Schools children were given corporal punishment as a form a discipline during the 2003-04 school year, an increase of 9 percent over the previous school year.

School officials in Autauga County say principals are allowed to use corporal punishment, but only in the most extreme cases. Figures on the number of times corporal punishment was used in either Autauga or Elmore counties was not available.

In Montgomery County, corporal punishment must be done with the approval of the principal and administered by the principal or the principal's designee, privately, in the presence of another certified school employee, but not in the presence of other students. No more than three licks can be administered to the buttocks using the approved paddle.

Even if the district allows it, not all schools use corporal punishment, said Lois Johnson, a school administrator with Montgomery Public Schools.

"Our school board has left it up to the principal of each school to decide whether or not they want to use it as a form of discipline," she said.

Corpun file 16157

Cleburne News, Alabama, 15 July 2005

BOE hears of dropout problem

By Wayne Ruple


“We've got to do something different,” said Cleburne County School Superintendent Scott Coefield as he discussed the high drop-out rate during a meeting of the Cleburne County Board of Education.

Coefield said the system's greatest problems are in the seventh, eighth and ninth grades were the retention rate hovers between 11-21 percent as opposed to other grades' 1-8 percent.


Coefield also presented a student incident/truancy report to the board, saying it is “not a true indicator” because some principals are believed to have mis-identified some problems.

The report does list CCHS with the highest number of suspensions, at 309, and Fruithurst Elementary with the smallest number of three. Ranburne Elementary had the highest number receiving corporal punishment, 286, and CCCTS with the low number of 11.


Copyright 1999-2005 Consolidated Publishing. All rights reserved.

Corpun file 16176

Miami Herald, Florida, 17 July 2005


Joseph Anderson

Player, teacher led Head Start

By Aldo Nahed


Joseph "Sport" Anderson, a former Head Start program director and an athletic hall of famer, died of complications from Alzheimer's disease at a Miami VA nursing home on Tuesday. He was 83.

Anderson was the first all-American football player at Bethune-Cookman College. In 2000 he was inducted into the college's athletic Hall of Fame.

But for Anderson, who was born in Tampa and grew up in Miami, education was his calling.

"They thought he was good on the field and they knew he would be a good administrator," said Richard Strachan, a former director of alternative education for Miami-Dade public schools and a longtime friend. "He started as a teacher, then a coach and became an administrator."


In the 1960s, Strachan worked with Anderson at North Dade Senior High and he recalls how kids would run away from police officers, but not from Anderson.

"Teachers would emulate how he did the job," said Strachan. "Parents loved him, they used him to come to their home and solve the problems with their children."

Alvilda Marie Greene, one of Anderson's former students who became a close family friend, remembers a paddle in his office called "the board of education." This, of course, was when paddling was allowed in public schools.

"I am sure if you say something about the board of education that was in his office, his students will know exactly what you are talking about," said Greene. "A lot of kids were kept out of jail because of that board."

Anderson worked in the school system for more than 34 years, his wife said. Many of those years were as a principal of North Dade Senior High. He received a lot of awards for helping juveniles and was a good mentor to friends and students.


Corpun file 16199

Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal, Tupelo, 20 July 2005

Sure, swift school discipline works best

By Charlie Mitchell

There was a day - and it wasn't too long ago - when a classroom teacher decided when a kid needed a whack - and did it. There were no witnesses to summon, forms to complete and few lawsuits to defend.

But about 35 years ago, Congress decided that school was a right (where it had been a privilege) and the Supreme Court decided students were actually people (as opposed to property) and procedures had to be followed instead of dealing with them on a whim.

The more enlightened among us (or those who believe they are more enlightened) hailed these changes as advances. The more stoic (some would say brutal) still prefer what they see as the efficiencies of the past.

Either way, we are where we are - and when classes resume all across Mississippi next month, "discipline" will again be a big topic.

Of course, viewed from outside the state, we're still considered pretty barbaric. While no state has a law against spanking by parents, Mississippi is in the minority of states that allows hitting students at school for misbehavior or other reasons.

Task forces and interest groups routinely descend on the Legislature to reform us, but have yet to prevail.

One day they might, and, according to polls, that might be OK with a growing number of Mississippians. Nationally, 65 percent of people approve of spanking other than in schools, yet only 26 percent approve of corporal punishment in an academic setting. Regionally, more people in the South agree with spanking in schools, but the percentage rises only to 35 percent. That means roughly two-thirds in this and other Southern states prefer a paddle not be in a teacher's arsenal of disciplinary tools.

And while, again, it's mostly Southern states that still allow teachers and administrators to spank, strict rules are in place and in many districts parents may sign "no spank" forms exempting their own children. (Alabama has an interesting statewide rule. The "offended" teacher may not impose the punishment. Instead, a "neutral" person must inflict the licks so anger does not play a role. Some Mississippi districts follow the "designated hitter" rule, but it's optional.)

For his part, Gov. Haley Barbour doesn't address spanking in his Upgrade Education package.

Compiled in 2004, the reform ideas were pushed - and Barbour says they will receive a major emphasis in the 2006 regular session - as mostly "free" changes to improve education. They call for decisions, not dollars.

Discipline is paramount in the Barbour package and there are four components. One is to recruit more volunteer mentors to work one-on-one with students who pose behavioral challenges. Another is to create a review panel of teachers who, presumably, can veto a principal's decision to return an unruly student to a teacher's classroom over the teacher's objection. Third (really vague) is to seek federal grants to "enhance school safety."

The kicker idea is No. 4. It's not unusual for a kid to get out of line and require an "orientation event" regarding the purpose of schools.

Most get the message. But if a student poses a chronic problem, it's a fair guess the student's parents are, in some way, either ignoring or endorsing the bad behavior.

To wit, Barbour proposes criminalizing failure to "participate in a timely manner to parent-teacher conferences" as a misdemeanor.

A parent could be fined cash, ordered to perform community service or - most severely - ordered to accompany a child to school and stay with him or her all day.

My guess is most kids would rather get whacked than have mom or dad as a baby sitter all day - so this "new" approach might actually be scarier than a session with the "board of education."

Actually, Barbour acknowledges, this latter approach to punishment is already legal, already conducted in some locales - but not often, and not consistently.

And that leads to the secret - if there is one - to classroom management.

A discipline plan that is swift, sure, focused and fair - whether it allows application of lumber or not - is likely to result in a well-ordered school where even the class clowns respect the limits.

A discipline plan - even one that endorses frequent beatings - will fail if it is arbitrary and not enforced evenly.

Congress and the courts and state officials and a shift in parental attitudes have all combined to hand public education big-league challenges. Things might have seemed simpler in the old days, but it's still consistency that counts.

2004, All Rights Reserved

Corpun file 16219

Hattiesburg American, Mississippi, 27 July 2005

Paddling still practiced in schools

By Erin Hilsabeck

Patti Welch sees nothing wrong with corporal punishment in schools - she believes the Bible supports it.

"'Spare the rod and spoil the child,'" said the Seminary resident, referring to the passage from the book of Proverbs. "I think spanking applied in the right manner is good. It's biblical."

But not everyone agrees. Tunga Nelson of Hattiesburg, a former teacher's aide in the city public school system, doesn't believe in spanking or paddling.

"They make the child angrier and more confused," Nelson said.

Corporal punishment - the deliberate infliction of pain, usually with a paddle, as a way of correcting negative behavior - is a common practice across Mississippi.

The U.S. Department of Education ranks Mississippi as the nation's top paddling state with nearly 10 percent of public school students paddled every year. In poorer parts of the state, where more children are from minority and single-parent families, corporal punishment is even more common.

State law allows teachers and school administrators to use corporal punishment, or paddling, when disciplining children. Besides Mississippi, 22 other states - including Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana and Tennessee - also allow teachers to use corporal punishment.

U.S. Department of Education statistics show that corporal punishment has been in decline since the early 1970s when states began to outlaw the practice.

In 2000, the most recent year for which figures are available, 342,038 public school students were paddled at school - down from 1.5 million in 1976. The figures do not include paddling in private and religious schools.

Corporal punishment policies in the Pine Belt area vary among school districts. Forrest, Lamar and Jones county schools allow paddling under strict guidelines, while Hattiesburg schools don't allow it at all.

Some schools, such as South Jones High School and those in Lamar County, send a note home with students at the beginning of each school year asking parents if their children can be subjected to corporal punishment.

Opponents of paddling argue that corporal punishment merely perpetuates a cycle of violence. Supporters contend that it sustains orderly and disciplined schools, which represent a child's best hope for social and academic advancement.

Thomas Miller, a child and adolescent psychiatrist in Hattiesburg, said he doesn't endorse corporal punishment.

"I think it's harmful," Miller said. "In small children, it basically teaches them the bigger person gets to do the hitting. In older children, it can cause resentment, embarrassment and anger, and shuts down communication."

But Claire Welch, who will be in ninth grade at South Jones in Ellisville, said she agrees with the paddling law.

"Students should get a few chances before they get paddled, but usually the kids deserve it," she said. The possibility of being paddled forces her to behave, she said.

Patti Welch, Claire's mother who supports corporal punishment, said, however, that disobedience needs to be dealt with in an appropriate manner.

"The punishment needs to fit the crime," she said.

Corpun file 16224

Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Little Rock, 31 July 2005


School employee sues over listing as child abuser

By Melinda Rogers


BERRYVILLE — An administrator in the Berryville School District has sued the Arkansas Department of Human Services, claiming her placement on the state child-maltreatment registry for paddling an 11-year-old boy is unjust.

Shelly Holman, an assistant principal at Berryville Elementary School, says she followed protocol when hitting the fifthgrader three times with a wooden paddle in April 2004 after the boy got into a fight with another student on the school playground, according to documents filed in Carroll County Circuit Court.

Susan Duncan, the boy's mother, disputes that. She believes Holman hit the child too hard, causing bruises so severe on the boy's buttocks that he had to seek medical attention. Duncan contacted the Department of Human Services after getting what she considered an unsatisfactory response from Holman and Berryville Superintendent Michael Cox.

The agency investigated the claim and ruled Holman violated Arkansas Code Annotated 12-12-503, which states it's abuse for a public school employee to cause a nonaccidental physical injury to a child. Holman, 37, subsequently was listed as a child abuser on the list in May 2004. Some school districts, daycare providers and other agencies check the list before hiring employees.

Holman is now challenging the agency's finding. Carroll County Circuit Judge Alan Epley is scheduled to hear the case Aug. 12.

That frustrates Duncan and other members of the boy's family, who said Holman should remain on the registry and not be allowed to paddle other children. The boy's aunt and uncle, Tamera and Michael Young of Fayetteville, question why the Berryville School Board renewed Holman's contract when she's registered as a child abuser. "There's a difference between swatting a child and leaving massive bruises on my son," Duncan said. "It's not really that I want her to lose her job. I just feel that she has done this to one child... there are other children it could happen to also."

Cox stands behind Holman. "She followed all the policies in the handbook. We followed the law; we had a witness there. I don't think she's done anything wrong, and I don't have any confidence in their investigation," said Cox, referring to Holman and the Department of Human Services.

The case plays out against a larger debate over corporal punishment's place in Arkansas and the nation. While some identify the practice as outdated and dangerous, others believe it's a quick, effective way to punish students when they act up.


Cox said the Berryville School District has used corporal punishment "forever." The paddling of Duncan's son was among 148 incidents of corporal punishment the Berryville School District reported during the 2003-04 school year.

In his six years as superintendent of the 1,786-student school district, tucked into the hills of Northwest Arkansas' Carroll County, he's received few complaints about the policy.

That falls in line with other districts that actively use corporal punishment across the state, said Rich Nagel, executive director for the Arkansas Education Association, the state's teachers union. Whether a district chooses to paddle students rests largely with parents' attitudes, he said. "If nobody finds it excessive and there's not any complaints by anybody, it's not going to be a problem," said Nagel.


Berryville school administrators and the boy's family recounted to an investigator the day Duncan's son was called to the principal's office after fighting with a classmate over whose turn it was to use a swing. Holman told Department of Human Services investigator Candace Gonzales the boy had a history of anti-social behavior. She said he'd been in trouble at school on several occasions and often threatened to kill other students, court documents state. That's why the playground incident drew a harsh penalty: a paddling or a three-day suspension. Holman said she assumed Duncan would choose the suspension, since she'd shied away from corporal punishment previously, according to Gonzales' interview summaries in the court file.

Reached at Berryville Elementary School, Holman said she can't discuss the incident or her lawsuit.

Duncan said she chose a paddling for her son because the boy had been suspended previously and struggled with classes. "I didn't want him suspended. I didn't want him to lose that important class time," she said.

Duncan and the boy's father, Jeff Blackston, and assistant high school principal Matt Summers gathered to witness the spanking. Holman said she had a brief conversation with the parents about the boy's grades, then asked him to bend over and place his hands on a desk.

Holman hit the boy three times with the paddle about two feet long and two inches wide, and he began to cry, documents state. After her son left the room, Duncan told Holman she hit the boy too hard.

Duncan said she left the school flustered.

Duncan said her son stayed at school for the remainder of the day. Later, when he returned home, she examined his bottom and was horrified to see large red welts.

They later darkened to deep purple bruises, photos in the court file show.

She took him to a clinic for an examination, but a doctor didn't find injury other than bruising.

Summers, the assistant principal, told Gonzales that he didn't believe the child's bruises came from the paddling. He suggested the bruises came from the child playing too hard on a swing, according to court documents.

In a transcript of testimony at Department of Human Services hearing held in January, Holman said she didn't bruise the child. "I did not feel that I could have possibly left those marks during my corporal punishment.... I'm assuring you and everyone I'd never intended any harm to this student," Holman said during a Department of Human Services hearing on the case.

Cox also questions how severe the boy's injuries were and wonders why the parents would have allowed the boy to stay at school if he was hurt. Since the incident, the boy has given Holman a hug at the start and end of each school day just as he had before the paddling, Cox said. "If a parent suspected [abuse] I can't imagine they'd leave their child at school," he said. Gonzales said she couldn't comment on the case when reached at her Bentonville office.

Department of Human Services spokesman Julie Munsell also declined to comment on specifics of the case, but said the agency uses a list of criteria to determine whether a person has committed child abuse.


The Berryville School District's policy authorizes "reasonable corporal punishment of unruly students." It states no more than three swats may be given to a student and says the measure shouldn't be used as a "first line of punishment" except in cases that are "anti-social or disruptive in nature" such as cutting class, fights between students, excessive public displays of affection and possession of tobacco. Parents are notified before children are spanked and school officials offer parents the chance to administer the paddling, Cox said.

Duncan said she and the boy's father weren't given that option.

Lisa Griggs, whose son got into the fight with Duncan's boy on the playground, said she also chose for her son to be paddled to avoid a three-day suspension. She also was dismayed when the boy returned home from school with large bruises on his buttocks. "He said ‘Mom, my butt hurts.' I said, ‘I bet it does' and he said, ‘ No, it hurts, '" said Griggs of Green Forest. "He pulled down his pants and I saw a bruise there. They'd turn us in for child abuse if our kids went to school with those kinds of bruises on them."

Griggs said she phoned Summers to complain and then called the Berryville Police Department. She said she wasn't familiar with Holman's listing on the registry and the pending court case.

Holman testified during a Department of Human Services hearing that she had paddled about 20 students since taking her post in the Berryville school system in 2002. She said she learned how to administer corporal punishment by observing "mentor" principals who talked about appropriate procedures for paddling.

She said she'd never received a complaint about how she administered spankings until Duncan came forward.

Holman lost a final appeal to the Department of Human Services for removal from the child maltreatment registry in March. The department's administrative law judge Lech Matuszewski wrote that Holman did not administer paddling with "extreme tact, care and caution" as required by the school district's discipline policy.



The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette conducted an analysis of corporal punishment in February and found spankings on the decline. Arkansas Department of Education data indicates the number of paddlings reported by the state's public schools fell by 16 percent from 55,772 paddlings during the 2000-01 school to 47,022 during 2003-04.

The analysis found the state's corporal punishment is most prevalent in south and east Arkansas. Two of the state's largest school districts, Little Rock and Springdale, don't practice corporal punishment.

Nagel said the Arkansas Education Association, which provides legal counsel to its members, said cases in which teachers are sued for paddling students are unusual. Of 263 current cases, only one involves corporal punishment, he said. "We're nearly 18,000 members. For us, this is rare," he said of lawsuits against teachers for paddling.

Duncan said her son's paddling has been trying for the family. She said she was nervous about confronting school officials and worries her family will suffer repercussions from others in the tight-knit Berryville community. Her son, now 12, isn't as excited about school as he used to be, she said. "I've tried putting a lot of this behind, but it's been very upsetting. I trusted the school and I trusted [Holman]," she said. "They may try to paint me out as a poor mother, a bad mother, but I'm not. I'm a good mother."

Tiffany Miles, the boy's aunt, who often baby-sits him, said she thinks the paddling still affects his behavior. "I think it's had a really bad impact. Now he just sloughs everything off. It's like it don't matter," Miles said.

Cox said the experience hasn't been easy for Holman, whom he described as a "good principal" who is "very dedicated to her work and very much concerned about student learning." "She loves kids," he said.

Holman's placement on the child abuse registry didn't stop the Berryville School Board from extending her contract for another year. At a June 30 meeting, three board members voted to renew Holman's contract and one member voted against it. Three members were absent.

Several School Board members didn't respond to an e-mail query asking for comment on renewal of the principal's employment.

Cox said if Holman's name stays on the registry it won't deter him from recommending to the board that she stay employed in Berryville's school system. "It's upsetting for her to be accused of child abuse," Cox said. "It's the last thing in the world she's ever done to hurt a child."

Copyright 2001-2004 Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Inc. All rights reserved.

blob Follow-up: 19 August 2005 - Educator did not abuse boy by paddling him, judge says

blob THE ARCHIVE index  Main menu page

Copyright Colin Farrell 2005, 2006
Page updated: March 2006