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School CP - December 2006

Corpun file 18648

Lexington Herald-Leader, Kentucky, 5 December 2006

School paddling in Johnson brings assault warrant

Father says principal "crossed the line"

By Lee Mueller
Eastern Kentucky Bureau

PAINTSVILLE - Like many parents in this region, Roger D. McGuire takes seriously the biblical admonition that you spoil the child if you spare the rod -- even in school.

"I believe in paddling in school," said McGuire, 44, a West Van Lear carpenter. "You have to have some kind of discipline. Otherwise, the kids will just go wild."

Last week, however, McGuire obtained an assault warrant against the principal at Central Elementary in Johnson County, one of 50 school districts in Kentucky that still permit corporal punishment.

McGuire concedes he gave the school permission to paddle his son at the beginning of the school year. The boy was punished Nov. 27 after what McGuire termed a wrestling match with another student during recess. But McGuire says principal Ben Hamilton, 43, went too far and hit too hard. "He crossed the line," said McGuire, who said bruises on his son's buttocks in the shape of a paddle were still visible yesterday. "You're talking about a straight-A student who's never been in trouble before and, in his first whipping, you tear his backside off."

Hamilton could not be reached for comment. McGuire said Hamilton's father and uncle were Johnson school superintendents.

The school board is investigating, said Michael Schmitt, its attorney.

Corporal punishment has been banned in 28 states, but Kentucky allows its 175 school districts to set policy on the issue, said Lisa Gross, spokeswoman for the state Department of Education.

Paddling "tends to be concentrated in more rural areas of the state," said Jon Akers of the Kentucky Center for School Safety in Richmond. "In fact, it's used most extensively in Eastern Kentucky." In the 2004-05 school year, the most recent for which figures are available, McCreary County reported 471 paddlings, Pike County 441, Martin County 117 and Lincoln County 112.

Akers said the Richmond center is neutral on paddling. But more and more districts are dropping corporal punishment. "When I first started, the number of districts paddling students was in the 70s," he said. "Each year, it dwindles." In 2001-02, for example, 43,019 paddlings were reported in Kentucky, he said. The number dropped to 34,060 in 2004-05.

Most discipline is administered to children in grades six through nine, Akers said. Ninth-graders are disciplined most often.

Corporal punishment in schools has been illegal in most of the world for several decades. After the Canadian Supreme Court outlawed the use of the strap by teachers, only the United States and a lone state in Australia allowed corporal punishment in the industrialized world. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 1977 that the Eighth Amendment, which prohibits cruel and unusual punishment, applies to convicted criminals, but not to students. Teachers also can punish children without parental permission, it ruled. Nevertheless, most urban public school systems have banned corporal punishment.

In Johnson County and most other districts that still allow it, parental permission is required and punishment must be administered in private, with a witness. Most systems now choose suspensions instead. "We have never had a complaint on corporal punishment," Akers said. "In fact, what we hear is that parents are frustrated because their students cannot be spanked. They'd rather they take three licks and send them back to class."

There are licks and then there is assault, said McGuire, who said he thinks Hamilton should have been arrested instead of subpoenaed into district court on Jan. 8. "If I'd hit my child that hard, they would have slapped the handcuffs on me 30 minutes after they found the welts on his butt and put him in a foster home," he said.

McGuire said he became angry after discovering the welts on his son, imagining Hamilton hitting his 130-pound fifth-grade son with a duct-taped board. "The thing is to me, you just don't hit my kid like that."

© 2006 Lexington Herald-Leader and wire service sources. All Rights Reserved.

Corpun file 18669

Winchester Sun, Kentucky, 12 December 2006

Student expulsions up slightly in Clark

By Sun Staff

Student expulsions, suspensions and uses of corporal punishment were up slightly in Clark County for the 2005-2006 school year, according to an annual study released Monday by the Kentucky Center for School Safety.

Two expulsions with educational services were reported last year as a result of law violations, up from one expulsion the year before. Expulsions without educational services were at three, up from zero in 2004-2005.

The total number of suspensions due to law violations increased from 17 to 26; however, both are a decrease from a reported 70 suspensions in 2003-2004.

Violations of board policy resulted in one expulsion with educational services, up from zero the year before, and 10 expulsions without educational services, up from zero the past two years.

Suspensions as a result of violations of board policy were at 896 last year, up from 863 in 2004-2005, but down from 917 in 2003-2004. Incidents with corporal punishment doubled, increasing from six to 12. In 2003-2004, corporal punishment was used eight times.

The total enrollment in 2005-2006 for the Clark County School District was 5,356. In 2004-2005 it was 5,338, and in 2003-2004 it was 5,248.

Copyright The Winchester Sun 2006

Corpun file 18788

Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Texas, 13 December 2006

In this tiny town, every game is the big game


BLUM -- On the Texas map, Blum is a dot along Farm Road 933. There's a post office, a restaurant, a convenience store, a beauty parlor and one bar.

Blum is so small, the century-old cemetery sits alongside the football field, which is 80 yards long and home of the Blum High School six-man team, by far the biggest thing -- and best story -- in town.

Football is close to a religion here, and players are guided by five principles posted in the locker room.

Thou shalt not fumble the ball
Thou shalt always finish blocks
Thou shalt never quit
Thou shalt give 110 percent all the time
Thou shalt never lose

This season the Bobcats took those commandments to heart, especially the last one.
Blum won its first 11 games by a combined score of 620-36. The six-man game, a wide-open variation of 11-man football devised during the Great Depression so small schools could compete, features a 'mercy' rule. If one team is leading by 45 points or more at halftime, or anytime thereafter, the game is over. It's like a technical knockout in boxing.

Discipline and love

One truth applies to football at all levels, universities and tiny high schools alike. 'If you're not winning all the time, it's hard to hire a great coach,' a Blum parent said. 'We got real lucky.'

Talafuse came to the 91-student high school before the 2005 season after teaching and coaching at Buckholts, south of Temple.

He found a group of likable boys who lacked the commitment and work ethic to give football their very best. The coach established military-style discipline. At rest, each player drops to his right knee, shoulders squared. If one misbehaves in class, he'll face the sting of the coach's paddle. Talafuse, 28, doesn't tolerate profanity, but liberally spices conversations and pep talks with an inventive use of euphemisms.

'Kids will let you coach them as hard as is humanly possible,' he said, 'if they know you love and respect them.'
His team boasted a two-year record of 22-4 and 5-1 in the playoffs.

Before the Bobcats boarded a yellow school bus for the ride to Comanche (the team ate sandwiches on the bus), the entire student body, pre-kindergarten and up, attended the after-school pep rally. Superintendent Jerry Kirby proudly wore his Bobcats sweatshirt. Everyone recited the Pledge of Allegiance. Cheerleaders led the rhythmic cheers: 'Let's go! Let's go! L-E-T-S G-O!' Then Talafuse spoke about the 15 boys seated together in the gym bleachers, wearing jeans and their green jerseys

He looked at each one.
Jimmy Ishmael, the 6-foot-3 basketball star who made football a priority this year.
Stephen McPherson, a strong kid who grew up around his father's Holstein cows. Levi Hardcastle, a regular at Wednesday night Bible study at the First Baptist Church. Michael Arrington, tailback and safety, a senior and team leader.
The coach liked his team's exceptional speed and believed in its stonewall defense.
He didn't predict victory, but promised the town this: Blum would play as fiercely as a wild pack of junkyard dogs.

He 'guaran-gosh-dang-teed' it.

It all comes down to this

Blum doesn't have a band, but hundreds of its supporters packed the stands on one side of the neutral-site stadium. Some stood along the fence clutching 10-pound propane tanks with ball bearings inside. When shaken, like mixing a martini, the tanks rattled loudly.

Behind closed doors, in the quiet sanctum of the locker room, Talafuse spoke calmly to his team. 'They got one stud duck,' he warned.

No. 13, Tyler Ethridge. Richland Springs' junior quarterback already owns the national six-man record for career touchdown passes. Earlier this season, in 20 minutes, his team beat Eden, 96-0.

As Talafuse drew up an offensive play -- J-left-option-right -- Stephen McPherson thought of what his father had told him. The dairyman offered the same advice his dad gave him when he played 11-man football at Whitney during the late 1970s.

'Do the best you can because someday you're gonna look back. You'll wish you could have done more. This is the chance of a lifetime.'

Players passed around a bottle of salt tablets. After watching a video of their season highlights, a touchdown parade, the boys knelt in an unbroken circle, and their coach led them in prayer. 'Lord,' he said, as the kickoff neared, 'let us honor you and our fans. ...'

Blum intended to erase the pain of last year's playoff loss to Richland Springs.

Their season suddenly over, Talafuse hurriedly gathered his boys near one goalpost while the victors capered about the field. Coaching is so much more than drawing X's and O's, and in that hurting moment he looked each kid in the eyes and spoke with candor and raw emotion. A few, he told them, appeared ready to give up late in the game, which he called a 'butt-whipping.'

His voice rose. 'I don't ever, ever, ever want to see you quit on the football field, or in your lives.'
Then he told them buck up, raise their heads. In the freezing cold, facing a two-hour bus ride home, the Blum Bobcats wandered off the field, fighting back tears.
Their parents and relatives stood on the sideline, waiting, with proud smiles and loving open arms.

Copyright © 2006 Fort Worth Star-Telegram, All Rights Reserved.

Corpun file 18710

Hartselle Enquirer, Alabama, 28 December 2006

Hartselle schools report upswing in incidents

By Clif Knight
Hartselle Enquirer

The misbehavior of students resulting in disciplinary measures rose by nearly 13 percent in Hartselle public schools during the 2005-06 academic year, based on figures published in a state-mandated accountability report aimed at tracking school safety and discipline.

Four of the five schools in the system reported a combined 122 incidents, or 22 more than the 108 that were reported in the prior year.

The state’s education accountability law requires that copies of the annual report be distributed to media representatives, parent organizations and legislators no later than Dec. 31 of the year it is completed.

With 58 incidents reported, Hartselle High School led all of the other schools. Hartselle Junior High School followed with 26, F. E. Burleson Elementary had 25 and Crestline Elementary reported 18. Hartselle High School has 10 fewer incidents than the year before while Hartselle Junior High School had three more, Crestline 14 more and Burleson seven more. Barkley Bridge Elementary reported no incidents.

Twenty-four of the incidents resulted from persistent/willful disobedience. Burleson had nine, Crestline, six; HHS, five; and HJHS, four. Following in number for all schools were: disorderly conduct, 18, fighting, 15; assault, 10; threats/intimidation, seven; knife possession, five; truancy, sexual offenses and larceny and profanity or vulgarity, three each;

Drugs possession, harassment and tobacco possession; two each; and other weapon possession, alcohol use and other incidents, one each.

The incidents resulted in disciplinary action as follows: suspensions, 69; alternative school, 27; corporal punishment, 37; and alternative setting, five.

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