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School CP - January 1949

Corpun file 16571

Time, New York, 10 January 1949


Trouble in Twinsburg

Students disliked him from the start. He was a mousy but stubborn man who regarded music, athletics and other extracurricular activities as worthless educational frills. When the school board chose him as superintendent and principal of the Twinsburg township school in northeastern Ohio, some parents protested. But Glen L. Powell, 51 the town's fourth superintendent in six years was just the sort of man old-fashioned Twinsburgers on the school board had been looking for.

Soon Powell and his educational principles became the talk of the township. The music teacher resigned: she had been assigned only to running study halls. The athletic coach quit because "My educational philosophy and that of the school superintendent were as far apart as the two poles . . ." Other stories dealt with paddling, long a traditional punishment for the unruly at Twinsburg. One student, struck on the nose, was placed under a doctor's care. A girl, caught chewing gum, had it stuck in her hair by a teacher and plastered down with Scotch tape.' The teacher was suspended by Powell for a week but was reinstated by the school board.

Bend Over. Friction mounted last November. Students asked for a weekly paper, were told they could put out only one issue, at the end of the term. The paddlings continued and many were administered by Powell himself. Once when there was a disturbance in a study hall, four Negro children were chosen at random to be paddled in Powell's office. "They told us to bend over like when we pray," said one little girl. "I was sore about three days." Later, another child complained: "Mr. Powell whipped me with a paddle one inch thick." Three boys said they were made to sit on the floor for 20 to 43 minutes with their feet propped up on high stacks of books.

Finally 50 parents marched into a school-board meeting to ask about punishment and other grievances. The board read the minutes and adjourned, told parents to "submit all complaints in writing ten days before a meeting."

A Cloudy Future. That made the kids madder than ever; 125 out of 149 went out on strike. They went back three days later, but trouble started again. Powell had an argument with Ronald Hegedish, a new boy, pushed him against a wall. The boy's father swore out a warrant against Powell for assault. Powell was arrested Dec. 9, freed on bond pending a hearing.

At the height of the uproar, the school board closed the school temporarily. Last week, with the school in holiday recess, Twinsburg was split down the middle. One group of citizens had formed a Citizens' League, given both Powell and the school board a vote of confidence. Other parents, angered, had lined up the Real Estate Owners Association, had collected 183 signatures calling for dismissal of the board. That was more than 15% of the township's voters enough to bring their demand into the courts.

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