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School CP - July 2008

Corpun file 20337 at


Hattiesburg American, Mississippi, 8 July 2008

No more paddling in Lamar Co. schools

By Brittany Brown


PURVIS - The Lamar County School Board voted Monday night to remove corporal punishment from the school district, one of a few changes made to the staff handbook for the upcoming school year.

"We talked to our administrators and it was so very rarely used we decided to remove it," Superintendent Ben Burnett said at the board's monthly meeting.

"I don't disagree with the liability issues, but I'm disappointed the decision was made without the board's guidance," said board member Mike Pruitt.

Burnett said handbook changes were submitted to the school board members in their packets before the meeting but did not include items eliminated from the handbook, such as the corporal punishment clause.

That, he said, would add 80 to 100 pages to each board member's packet.

Burnett explained each school district decides whether to have corporal punishment, a disciplinary action better known as paddling. He said the option has been off the books for teachers for several years, making administrators the only ones who could paddle students.

"Our principals just didn't use it enough to warrant the liability issues it has," said Peggy Williams, director of instruction and federal programs.

Williams and other staff members have overseen the changes made to the staff handbook that also included prohibiting teachers from text messaging students and adding their students as friends to their online social network pages, such as Facebook and MySpace.

"This is to protect both students and teachers and maintain a professional environment," she said.


Corpun file 20351 at


Clarion Ledger, Jackson, Mississippi, 11 July 2008

Corporal punishment may return to district

By Rebecca Helmes

While one Mississippi school district decided to end its corporal punishment policy this week, Jackson's district hasn't decided after a year of consideration whether to reinstate its own.

Kyle Hill, a board member in the Lamar County School District, said the board unanimously approved a recommendation Monday from the district's administrators and superintendent to get rid of a discipline tool that he called antiquated.

"Administrators felt like they were not using it. There are other means of discipline these days," Hill said. "I'm a teacher, taught in public schools for a long time. For me, it wasn't a big issue."

In Jackson Public Schools, the board member who last year brought up reintroducing corporal punishment in the state's largest school district said the issue isn't dead.

"I haven't taken it off the table," Sollie Norwood said.

JPS stopped using corporal punishment in 1991 after determining it was ineffective in preventing students from misbehaving.

But Norwood said it could be a while before the board focuses on it again, because the district has so much going on. Besides working on a $150 million bond project that will help build, renovate and add on to the district's schools, JPS also is searching for a new superintendent.

Superintendent Earl Watkins announced in April he would not seek to renew his contract when it expires in June 2009.

On Tuesday, the school board is scheduled to discuss the progress of the committee it created last summer to study the effectiveness of all of the district's discipline tactics.

During the 2006-07 school year, Mississippi school districts reported administering corporal punishment to 23,566 students and using it 47,727 times.

But since at least two school districts - Hinds County and Attala - did not report to the state Department of Education how many times they used corporal punishment, the total could be higher.

A majority of Mississippi public schools allow paddling as punishment.

In the Jackson area, most surrounding districts say they don't use it very often.

According to the Department of Education, the Rankin County district used corporal punishment 1,184 times during the 2006-07 school year. The district has more than 17,000 students.

Caron Blanton, spokeswoman for the department, said the state has not heard of other districts doing away with corporal punishment, but school districts are not required to report that to the state. She pointed out that whether districts allow corporal punishment is a local decision.

Superintendent Stephen Handley said the Hinds County School District allows corporal punishment but its use is up to principals' preference. Both high school principals don't use it, but corporal punishment is used in other schools with younger students.

"As the child gets older it's not used as much," Handley said.

Corpun file 20383 at


Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Georgia, 21 July 2008

Central Georgia schools bring back paddling

By Julie Hubbard
Associated Press

Jeffersonville, Ga. -- Twiggs County principals will be pulling out their dusty paddles when school resumes and using them when students act up.

At least that's the school system's aim.

The Twiggs County school board reinstated its corporal punishment policy this summer to allow students to be spanked to curb misbehavior.

Some board members felt that in many cases, detention for students or a scolding wasn't working.

"We had a policy but we weren't using it," said Ethel Stanley, one of the board's five members. "Sometimes smaller kids will obey better if they have a paddling. The more you give them rope, the more they try.

"It's something to deter them," she said.

Last year, Twiggs County schools reported more than 300 student misconduct incidents and 62 fights, according to a state report. The system has about 1,100 students.

At least two board members said student discipline problems are also a factor in higher-than-normal teacher turnover this past school year, and officials are trying ways to improve student achievement.

Most of the system's source of misbehavior comes from middle-schoolers, said Levi Rozier, Twiggs County's campus police chief.

"That's when they're finding themselves," Rozier said.

But for the deterrent to work, teachers and principals will need to be consistent when correcting students' behavior, and parents will have to accept the change, he said.

"It has to be bought in by parents," he said.

Twiggs parents will have to sign a permission slip for their child to be paddled by an administrator, and witnesses will have to be in the room, Stanley and board member Johnnie Moore said. There also will be a meeting to inform parents of the changes, Stanley said.

Experts and education officials -- even those in the midstate -- are divided on whether paddling actually deters misbehavior.

Murray Straus, co-director of the Family Research Laboratory and a professor of sociology at the University of New Hampshire, said children who are spanked are more likely to be physically aggressive or become juvenile delinquents.

Others in the field claim that spanking a child can be effective in some cases for those who repeatedly misbehave and for whom nothing else works.

Twenty-eight states have banned corporal punishment in schools, although Georgia allows school systems to decide whether to use it.

"It's a hotly debated issue," said Sharon Patterson, superintendent of the Bibb County school system. "We do use corporal punishment, but it can't be used as a first line of discipline."

It's also up to the discretion of principals, and parents can opt out if they choose.

In Bibb County, principals at Hutchings Career Center, Central High, Union Elementary and Taylor Elementary schools say they prefer not to spank students.

Principals at Westside High, Howard Middle and Skyview Elementary, however, say they use corporal punishment when they need to.

Lynne Donahoo, Burghard Elementary School's principal, says she paddles students sparingly - and never on special education students or those younger than first grade.

Last school year, she used corporal punishment just a handful of times, including on a second-grader for throwing pencils and for others with chronic misbehavior for whom time out and counseling did not work.

"Sometimes these little ones are hard headed and you have to show them you mean business," Donahoo said. "I haven't used it often, but I have used it."

The Houston County school system does not allow its faculty members to paddle students.

"Corporal punishment is not an appropriate means of discipline in Houston County schools," said Robin Hines, assistant superintendent for school operations.

"We have a great deal of confidence in our progressive discipline procedures that utilize classroom strategies as well as schoolwide procedures that include detention, in-school suspension and home suspension."

Corpun file 20382 at


Chattanooga Times Free Press, Tennessee, 23 July 2008

Georgia: Corporal punishment is a thing of the past in most school districts

By Chloe Morrison

While one Georgia school district is moving to reinstate use of corporal punishment, officials with most Northwest Georgia systems said -- although paddling is allowed -- it is not common.

"Corporal punishment is allowed in Georgia, but it is rarely practiced in our schools," Catoosa County Superintendent Denia Reese said. "Most principals will call the parent prior to administering corporal punishment."

Georgia law leaves corporal punishment policies up to each county board of education.

In Twiggs County in Central Georgia, school board members have reinstated corporal punishment, believing the possibility of a paddling will deter bad behavior.

Officials said detention and scolding have not worked. Last year there were more than 300 student misconduct incidents and 62 fights among the 1,100 students in Twiggs County schools, according to a state report and The Associated Press.

In Northwest Georgia, counties such as Walker, Catoosa and Dade have similar paddling policies that reflect state law and involve caveats, such as "corporal punishment shall not be excessive or unduly severe."


Many Georgia school districts have a corporal punishment policy similar to Walker County's, which has five main directives:

* Corporal punishment shall not be excessive.

* It is not to be used as a first line of punishment.

* It must be administered in front of another certified employee.

* The person who administers the punishment must give written reasons to the parents if they request.

* It cannot be used on children whose parents have expressed objection.

Source: Walker County School Board's Web site

Superintendent of Chickamauga City Schools Melody Day said paddling is a last resort and rarely used. She said it is typically an administrative procedure, although teachers are allowed to use corporal punishment.

Twiggs County parents will have to sign a permission slip to allow their child to be paddled by an administrator, and there must be a witness in the room.

It has not always been that way, and some places it still isn't.

In Dade County, school board Chairman Nathan Wooten said parents must let the school know if they don't want their child to be paddled. He said he doesn't think corporal punishment is used much in Dade's middle and high schools, but said it is used in elementary schools.

Twenty-eight states have banned corporal punishment, and officials said the issue provokes heated debate.

"Principals and their support staff believe that consequences should be appropriate and instructional in order to modify behavior, not simply to punish a student," said Elaine Womack, spokeswoman for Walker County schools.

LaFayette, Ga,. resident Roger Carlton said he has encouraged Walker County school officials to paddle his children if it is needed.

"We've had to make them spank them," Mr. Carlton said about his three sons being disciplined by school officials.

"If they need it, they need it," he said, adding that obviously he doesn't want children to be permanently or badly hurt.

Ridgeland High School principal Robert Smith said attitudes about corporal punishment have changed since he began teaching in the '70s.

"When I first started, corporal punishment was pretty effective in changing the behavior," he said. "Public perception of paddling has changed."

Today, opinions vary about the effectiveness of paddling.

Most school officials in Northwest Georgia said there are more effective methods.

Former elementary school teacher Chris Chambers, who now serves as coordinator of student and personnel services for Walker County schools, said his system has a progressive punishment policy with more viable options for dealing with discipline problems.

Mrs. Day also said in Chickamauga faculty members try to catch behavior problems before they escalate to a situation that would merit corporal punishment.

The practice of paddling has been on the decline since '70s, officials said.

Mr. Smith remembered a time when getting paddled at school was nothing compared to what could be expected from parents when the student got home.

But today, liability issues and new parental perspectives have most area administrators using corporal punishment as a last resort, or not at all.

"Today, you give children a verbal reprimand, and parents want to come up and fuss because their child's self-esteem got damaged," Mr. Smith said. "It's a whole new world."

Corpun file 20447 at


The Ledger, Lakeland, Florida, 24 July 2008

Spanking Has Hit Bottom In Polk Schools

Polk board's code changes includes end of corporal punishment.

By John Chambliss
The Ledger

LAKELAND | You may not have known it, but until Tuesday some Polk County elementary school principals were allowed to spank students.

Now, that's ended.

Corporal punishment, once accepted throughout the district, is out as one of several changes to the district's code of conduct approved by the School Board. Other changes include stronger rules against bullying, allowing students to make up work for unexcused absences, and immediately contacting parents when law enforcement officials wish to interview students.

The new code of conduct was written after a report issued by the Urban Special Education Leadership Collaborative in May 2007 said that the district's discipline code required "significant revision" and "contributed to a punitive learning environment."

School Board members passed the new code of conduct 5-1. Board member Lori Cunningham was absent.

Board member Tim Harris voted against the new code, saying schools should be allowed to administer corporal punishment if parents request it.

"Spare the rod, spoil the child," Harris said, paraphrasing the Bible during a work-session meeting.

It's unclear how many Florida school districts still allow spanking, Polk school officials said.

Corporal punishment was already nearly dead in Polk County.

Only about 14 parents in three elementary schools chose to have their children spanked, said Bruce Tonjes, associate superintendent of school-based operations.

A signed form by parents allowed principals to administer spankings if the child misbehaved.

Eagle Lake's Pinewood Principal Brenda Johnson said she spanked about two students a month.

Johnson used something similar to a pingpong paddle when she spanked students in her office. She delivered one to three swats each time she spanked a child.

"It gets them on the straight and narrow," Johnson said. "Parents have thanked me quite often."

In addition to Pinewood, Janie Howard Wilson Elementary in Lake Wales and Eastside Elementary in Haines City allowed corporal punishment.

Johnson said it was a success.

"I hate to see anything that works thrown out," Johnson said. "If parents ask for it, it should be allowed."

Parents will still be allowed to discipline their own children at schools as long as it is not abusive, said Wes Bridges, School Board attorney.

"How a parent disciplines a child is up to that parent, but I also think that school administrators have control over what goes on in that school," Bridges said.

Board member Kay Fields agreed.

"If a parent is adamant about corporal punishment, they will come to the school," Fields said at the board meeting.

Copyright © 2008 -- All rights reserved.

Corpun file 20794 at


Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Georgia, 27 July 2008

Stinging thoughts of school spanking

By Rick Badie

I can still see the paddle and the principal who wielded it. Mr. Banks. As old-school as they come.

He had holes drilled in his wooden paddle to cut down wind resistance. To make that sting really bite when wood met behind.

That's the way it was back in the day, when I was in school. Corporal punishment, at least in elementary school and middle school, was de rigueur.

Now, in Twiggs County, it's back. The middle Georgia county's school board recently voted to reinstate paddling. Parents, according to an Associated Press report, will have to sign a permission slip for their kids to be spanked; they also can opt out of the program. Witnesses must be present when the punishment is meted out.

The debate on whether to paddle or not, if it even deters improper behavior, continues to rage on. Generally, I've found that pro-spankers base their assessment of the matter on two factors:

-- It's the way they were raised. It worked for them, and they weren't severely scarred or demeaned by it. "A good whack on the behind never hurt anybody," they say. "That's what's wrong with kids today," they opine. "They don't fear getting their butts spanked."

-- They think paddling kids will help restore order in schools gone wild. Maybe, just maybe, it will fill a vacuum in which too many kids, on too many campuses, show scant respect for their peers, much less teachers. Fear of what's to come, notably pain, might curb behavior, they reason.

To spank or not to spank. It continues to be the question. Twenty-eight states have banned corporal punishment in schools; Georgia allows school systems to decide whether to paddle.

Make no mistake: Paddling is a quick fix. A sure-fire way to get one's attention, to briefly change behavior. A consequence, it is hoped, of a last resort that inflicts pain, perhaps embarrasses and sends a message: Your behavior stinks. Stop it. Now.

But old-fashioned values, coupled with old-school approaches like paddling, are archaic in modern society. Twiggs County school officials are paddling against a strong current of pedigreed opposition. Practically every leading association on the planet has screamed "no" to corporal punishment in schools. (Examples: The American Psychology Association, the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and the National Association of Elementary School Principals.)

Alphonsa Foward Jr. is director of my daughter's school, New Life Academy of Excellence Inc. in Norcross. He's against paddling in American schools, particularly given the country's diverse populations.

"Discipline is different for different cultures, which suggests a variety of disciplining [strategies]," he told me. "In today's society, with so many different ethnic groups, it would make corporal punishment difficult."

Moreover, Foward doesn't think paddling has ever been as efficient in curbing behavior as pro-spankers tend to believe. It wasn't the paddling that dictated respectable behavior. The times did.

"Children were taught respect at home, and they knew they had to respect their teachers," he said. "Values were taught at home."

I have full faith in Mr. Foward and the way he runs New Life.

But I wouldn't want him, or any school official, spanking my kids.

Rick Badie's column appears on Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Copyright 2008 The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

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