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School CP - September 2005

Corpun file 16703

NEA Today Vol. 24 No. 1 (National Education Association), 1 September 2005


Corporal punishment is legal in 22 states. Would you support its use in your school?


By David Mason

Defiance, chaos, threats, cursing, assault. All these behaviors have risen from rare to frequent in many schools since the elimination of corporal punishment. I began teaching 29 years ago very opposed to corporal punishment. But I have come to see that caring parents and teachers set limits and should be able to back them with corporal punishment if necessary.

Once, parents held schools in such high esteem that children knew if they were in trouble at school they would be in even more trouble at home. Today, it is more common for a student to use his cell phone on his way to the office to call a parent to "bail him out."

A growing number of parents are so protective that they yell at teachers who dare to discipline their children, complain to administrators and school boards, and even threaten lawsuits. Few teachers and administrators can withstand such bullying. Paddling is legal in Missouri, but no administrator in my district will allow it.

Misbehaving children have come to believe no one can stop them. Each year, when I tell students that state law allows spanking, they are incredulous. Their common taunt has become, "You can't touch me." Detention and suspension have no effect. Students carry these "punishments" as badges of honor in their negative peer group.

In a perfect world, parents would teach their children how to behave at home. Unfortunately, that often doesn't happen. If the nation wants orderly schools and higher test scores, it must allow educators a big toolbox of discipline methods in which corporal punishment continues to be an option. The occasional spanking of a boy or girl for bad behavior provides an immediate, painful consequence that can convince them and their friends to pay attention.

Even the threat of corporal punishment could be the one thing that keeps a boy or girl out of prison.

DAVID MASON teaches eighthgrade U.S. history at Spring Garden Middle School in St. Joseph, Missouri.


By Noel Rosenbaum

Corporal punishment is violence against children and has no place in a public school.

Middle school students often feel that a hit here, pull of hair there, stone thrown now and then are perfectly OK. As educators, we should be good role models and not add to the violence.

Corporal punishment is legal in Texas but in my district, we don't use it. So how do we keep unruly students from disrupting classes? Our school has an "In-School Suspension Room." If a student is out of control, an aide takes the student there for a "Time Out." Often, the student reflects and writes about why he or she acted inappropriately.

If that's not enough, we use a discipline plan with step-by-step, increasing consequences for misbehavior. For the most serious cases, we have an Alternative School where the student-teacher ratio is small and the primary focus is anger management and citizenship. There is a tradeoff: Academics take a back seat-although they are still present.

On our campus, one boy started out the sixth grade with a noisy argument in the hall. He quickly progressed to disruptive classroom behavior and, ultimately, membership in a gang. We had to assign him to our Alternative School.

Several months later, he returned. He realized he had missed quite a bit of work. He said he had made very bad choices and was now determined to be a successful student. At his first award night he told me, "I never knew that if I gave of myself and really worked hard, I would receive far more back than I could ever expect!" What a beautiful smile he had, clutching his certificates for most improved student!

Not all students respond so well. But our Alternative School gave him a stronger and longer-lasting boost in the right direction than a paddle could have done.

NOEL ROSENBAUM is a technology teacher at the William D. Slider Middle School in El Paso, Texas.

Corpun file 16492

Sioux Falls Argus Leader, South Dakota, 4 September 2005

Most South Dakotans say spanking OK

By David Kranz


South Dakotans generally think it is OK if they spank a child but raise the red flag if a teacher is the one doing that disciplining of a student.

A national SurveyUSA poll last month probed the views of 600 people older than 18 in each of the 50 states to determine attitudes about education and child discipline.

The discipline question was broken down into three questions:

1. Do you think it is OK for a schoolteacher to spank a student?

2. Do you think it is OK to spank a child?

3. Do you think it is OK to wash a child's mouth out with soap?

On the question of whether it is OK to spank a child, 73 percent of South Dakotans said “yes.”

But when asked whether a teacher should be able to spank a child, only 20 percent said “yes.”

As for washing out a mouth with soap, 38 percent said “yes.”

Sioux Falls PTA president Heidi MacGregor concurs with the survey when it comes to spanking.

“I would agree that it is not OK for a teacher to spank a child because of a concern for the child's safety,” she said. “Some may say it is a spank, but it may be a hard hit.”

MacGregor says she supports a parent's right to discipline his or her child, though.

When all 50 states were averaged, 23 percent said “yes” to question No. 1, 72 percent said “yes” to the second question and 31 percent said “yes” to the third question.


Corpun file 16489

Lufkin Daily News, Texas, 8 September 2005

Parents of student who was paddled file suit against Groveton ISD

By Gary Bass
The Lufkin Daily News


Alleging school officials physically abused their son and violated his civil rights, the parents of a former Groveton ISD student have filed a lawsuit in Lufkin's U.S. District Court. The lawsuit stems from two paddling incidents in 2003.

The lawsuit, filed by the family of Justin Michael Causby, is seeking an unspecified amount in negligence claims and exemplary damages for past and future pain, suffering, mental anguish and emotional distress.

"The Groveton Independent School District has a policy which promotes corporal punishment," the lawsuit states. "The school policy is archaic, barbaric and sadistic and one which encourages physical abuse on minors as punishment for trivial infractions.


The lawsuit alleges Groveton ISD's corporal punishment policy is in "direct conflict" with state criminal laws that prevent citizens from physically abusing minor children.

In addition to the school district itself, the lawsuit named a PE coach and a band teacher at Groveton Elementary as defendants.

The first paddling occurred Aug. 21, the lawsuit states. At the time, Justin Causby was a 10-year-old fifth grader at Groveton Elementary. The second occurred four days later.


© 2005 Cox Texas Newspapers, L.P. - The Lufkin Daily News

blob Follow-up: 12 January 2006 - Federal Court dismisses suit against Groveton ISD

Corpun file 16584

Tyler Morning Telegraph, Texas, 12 September 2005

TISD workshop looks at corporal punishment

By Danny Mogle
Assistant Managing Editor

Should corporal punishment continue as a disciplinary option in Tyler Independent School District?

The issue garnered a great deal of attention at a board workshop on Monday. The special meeting was held to give trustees a chance to discuss issues they will face at Thursday's regular board meeting.

Although there were 18 items on the agenda, the board only dealt in detail with two: corporal punishment and expansion of the Secondary International Baccalaureate Program. The board adjourned after meeting for two hours.

The issue of corporal punishment was raised because the state's revised family code gives only parents and guardians the right to use corporal punishment on children. Secondary Education Director Dr. Karen Raney said the Texas Association of School Boards advised that the family code does not apply to school policy.

Parents in Tyler ISD who don't want their child paddled sign a form sent home during the first few days of the school year. Parents who don't "opt out" of the corporal punishment option are still informed before their child is paddled.

Dr. Raney said about 10 students on each campus each school year are disciplined this way. "Used appropriately, corporal punishment can be effective," she said.

Trustee Michelle Carr said she was "very uncomfortable" with corporal punishment. She cited groups representing pediatrics, civil rights, mental health, medicine and social work that are opposed to it.  There has to be a "better way to change children's behavior than swatting them," she said.

Trustee Kristen Baldwin also has concerns. She said administrators at some campuses choose not to paddle, which means corporal punishment is not uniformly enforced. The board should reconsider the current policy, she said.

John Hardy, Tyler ISD's attorney, said a district -- even if it follows policies -- could be held legally liable for using corporal punishment.

Trustee Brad Spradlin said at this point he favors keeping the policy. Many people believe the threat of paddling can help stop bad behavior, he said.

Trustee Ron Vickery suggested it might be better if parents sign a form that says the district can paddle their child instead of a form that says they cannot. He said if the district does not have an effective way to discipline disruptive students, the education of other students could suffer. "It's a tough issue," he said.

Therelee Washington, another trustee, said, "There is a need in this district for some type of corporal punishment."  He said he has information he will share with other trustees during Thursday's board meeting.

Board President Andy Bergfeld asked administrators to get opinions from principals about the need and enforcement of corporal punishment. The primary goal of the district remains "capturing kids' hearts," he said.


© Tyler Morning Telegraph 2005

blob Follow-up: 15 September 2005- Trustees split on policy

Corpun file 16605

logo (WVTM-TV), Birmingham, Alabama, 13 September 2005

Student's Family Files Assault Charges Against Assistant Principal

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -- A local school administrator faces a legal fight after a student's family files assault charges against him. The assistant principal, Reginald Ware, at Rutledge Middle School was arrested last week and charged with the misdemeanor.

Parents of Rutledge students were not aware of the charges and want to know more.

"They should have told all the parents what's going on. That should have been the first thing," said concerned parent, Shewana Brown.

Last week a parent accused Ware of spanking her eighth grader and injuring the child. Neither school administrators nor the board of education wanted to talk about the incident. Police consider it an ongoing investigation. Ware is fighting the charge he had no comment. He will appear before a judge October.

"Alabama law is very clear that corporal punishment is allowed and sanctioned by the law, it specifically is," said Bill Dawson, Ware's defense attorney.

Copyright 2005 by All rights reserved.

Corpun file 16611

Tyler Morning Telegraph, Texas, 15 September 2005

Trustees split on policy

By Rhiannon Meyers
Staff Writer

Members of the Tyler Independent School District Board of Trustees remained divided Thursday night on the district's policy of allowing corporal punishment with parental permission.

District 3 Trustee Therelee Washington urged the board to continue using corporal punishment as a discipline management technique, saying that taking it away would be eliminating disciplinary options for principals, while District 6 Trustee Michelle Carr said corporal punishment does not belong in the classroom, is not an effective technique and makes the district vulnerable to lawsuits.

Superintendent Dr. David Simmons discussed corporal punishment with Tyler ISD campus principals and determined that although it is not being used at Robert E. Lee and John Tyler high schools, it is being administered at the Plyler complex. The majority of Tyler ISD's middle schools administer corporal punishment, but only one-fourth of elementary schools use it. Simmons said the principals' responses to the corporal punishment "ran the gamut," with some principals strongly for and against the policy. However, Simmons said a majority of principals agreed that the district's policy of corporal punishment was in conflict with the district's training in its "Capture Kids' Hearts" campaign.

Simmons cited a survey of 24 Texas schools that found 14 allowed it and 10 did not, and he said that in the East Texas area, the Longview, Lufkin, Marshall and Nacogdoches school districts all allowed for corporal punishment.

Tyler ISD's code of conduct allows spanking or paddling a student under specific guidelines: The student must be told the reason for punishment; the punishment can only be administered by a principal, assistant principal or teacher; the disciplinary instrument must be approved by the principal or designee; and the punishment must be administered in the presence of a designated district employee and out of view of other students. Written parental permission is required, parents are called before corporal punishment is administered and all cases of corporal punishment are documented on a district form.

The issue of revising the district's policy was raised in the wake of House Bill 383, which went into effect Sept. 1 and states that only a parent or guardian may use corporal punishment on a child. According to information from Tyler ISD, the Texas Association of School Boards Legal Division advised that corporal punishment may be used as a discipline management technique under a district's student code of conduct.

Washington said corporal punishment is an effective disciplinary tool and something that some children respond very well to. He said that he frequently used corporal punishment as a principal for 35 years and it was a disciplinary technique that was used on him as a child.

"I've had parents come to me and say... 'Will you help me with my child? My child is very difficult,'" Washington said. "And I said, 'Fine.' I don't see anything wrong with a little swat on the rear end. I'm a product of a swat on the rear end ... I would rather give a paddling than see them in jail, and that could happen."

Mrs. Carr disagreed, reading from a statement that called corporal punishment an adverse technique that most large districts across the country have already eliminated. She said several national organizations have spoken out against corporal punishment, saying that it tends to increase violent and aggressive behavior in students and is disproportionately administered to minorities and poor children. Mrs. Carr said the Tyler ISD campuses where corporal punishment is not used are not chaotic; on the contrary, she said, they are some of the most high-performing.

"We want to engage children in the thrill of learning," Mrs. Carr said. "Pain and fear do not have a place in this process."

District 2 Trustee Orenthia Mason said she thinks corporal punishment should not be considered discipline, and that it's a consequence for negative behavior and an option that should not be taken away from principals. However, Ms. Mason said she has personally used corporal punishment and she hopes that it would solely be used as a last resort and accompanied with a conference between the teacher and the student.

"I can debate it both ways," she said. "The concern that I have is to not strip the principals of some of the options they have - admonish them of the use of it. It's not a first resort. But to just strip that option from a principal - I have a serious concern with that."

District 4 Trustee Kristen Baldwin expressed concerns that the policy makes the district liable for lawsuits, and she argued that the costs of having the risky policy outweigh any benefits the punishment has. Parents and students can file a lawsuit against the district if they feel that the corporal punishment administered was excessive or unusual, even if a parent gave legal consent, said the district's attorney, John Hardy. He said districts nationwide have been successfully sued on corporal punishment claims and although the district is taking a risk with the policy, a lawsuit has never been brought against Tyler ISD for corporal punishment.

"We have been very fortunate that lawsuits have not been brought against us," Hardy said. "There are too many people out there willing to file a lawsuit if there [sic] child is administered corporal punishment."

Washington argued that the district takes risks daily, and corporal punishment is worth the risk for the benefits it provides.

"Look, you're not going to have a school where you're not going to have risks," he said. "Every day you come to school, you have risks. That's where people use commons sense. I don't think we have a principal in this district that can maliciously hurt a child."

Ms. Baldwin also expressed concerns that corporal punishment was primarily being used in middle schools, where she said the students are too old for corporal punishment to make an impact.

District 5 Trustee Brad Spradlin was undecided on the issue, but said it concerns him that corporal punishment is administered to middle school students. He also said he was troubled about possible lawsuits.

"The liability end of it - that really bothers me," he said. "I don't want anyone using good and sound judgement that feels like they are doing the best thing for their campus and their student to wind up in the courthouse."

District 7 Trustee Ron Vickery called corporal punishment a difficult issue, but advised that if the policy is allowed to continue, the district should consider revising the waiver form to allow parents to opt into corporal punishment, instead of requiring them to opt out.

"If we keep the policy, we should flip the assumption and assume we don't have permission," he said.

Simmons said he plans to research the matter further and hopes to return to the board with a recommendation for a board vote in 60 days.

© Tyler Morning Telegraph 2005

blob Follow-up: 20 October 2005 - Simmons advises on punishment revisions

Corpun file 16613

Newsday, New York, 16 September 2005

Ex-basketball coach pleads guilty to spanking players

By Luis Perez
Staff Writer

A former Staten Island basketball coach pleaded guilty Thursday to spanking three teenage boys as punishment, and will be placed on a sex-offender list, authorities said.

Drew Sanders, 49, was arrested without incident at his New Springville home Wednesday after authorities received another complaint from a boy, officials said.

The 16-year-old victim told investigators that Sanders spanked him over his shorts while he lay on Sanders' lap three times last year, a spokesman for Staten Island District Attorney Daniel Donovan said. Sanders would spank them for missing shots.

Sanders was held overnight and pleaded guilty to three counts of forcible touching, which included similar complaints from two other boys in July, when Sanders was first arrested.

Sanders was released, but will be sentenced in November and is expected to serve six months' probation, officials said. He will also be placed on the state-wide registry of sex offenders.

Sanders,who recently served as assistant executive director of the Staten Island Jewish Community Center, was a basketball coach at Tottenville High School and a summer camp coach at Susan Wagner High School. He was suspended from those posts.

A spokesman for the district attorney said several other complaints were filed, but charges were not brought because the statute of limitations had expired.

Copyright © 2005, Newsday, Inc.

blob Follow-up: 29 November 2005 - Wrist slap in 'Spank'

Corpun file 16653

KOLR-10 TV, Springfield, Missouri, 20 September 2005

School Spanking Incident Investigated

The Texas County Sheriff's department is investigating a spanking incident at the Plato school district. The superintendent says an 11-year old sixth grader was given corporal punishment by the high school principal after the boy misbehaved.

He said the school had the boy's parent's permission to do so over other forms of punishment including detention.

However after the punishment was administered, the boy's mother was alarmed by the bruises on her son's buttocks.

Investigators say she took him to the Texas County Sheriff's department where a call was made to the Department of Social Services Child Abuse hotline.

The sheriff's department investigation should be completed this week and then the prosecuting attorney will determine if charges should be filed.

blob Follow-up: 16 November 2005 - Stopping the swats: Plato school board votes to end corporal punishment

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