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School CP - November 1979

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Los Angeles Herald Examiner, 3 November 1979

Guidelines on school spankings

"I have personally accepted to take three swats ... I not only want to see the paddle (used for corporal punishment), but I want to experience it also." -- L.A. School Board member Bobbi Fiedler

By Ellen Futterman
Herald Examiner Staff Writer

School Board member pretending to get paddled in publicity stunt
(Picture from "The Last Resort", Berkeley, California, March/April 1980)

It may take a while before spanking with a paddle returns to Los Angeles city schools, but when it does, school board member Bobbi Fiedler said she would be the first one to "bend over."

"I not only want to see what these paddles look like," Fiedler said yesterday at a public hearing of the Board of Education, which drew about 35 people. "I want to experience it."

Fiedler's comment came during a hearing called by the board to get public opinion on guidelines for its plan to reintroduce spanking into elementary and junior high schools. Although the use of corporal punishment had been approved by a 4-2 board vote on Oct. 22, no guidelines have yet been set up.

Fiedler said, "I have personally accepted to take three swats ... I not only want to see the paddle (to be used for corporal punishment), but I want to experience it also."

Fiedler explained that being paddled will help her "gather empirical evidence" on what kind of paddle should be used in spanking.

She said she expected that spanking would be back in the schools by September 1980.

The tentative spanking guidelines were submitted by administrative consultant Sidney Thompson, who is chairman of the Committee for Implementation Guidelines for Corporal Punishment. They call for, in addition to parental consent, a review of the student's health card and any other remedial measures, an explanation of why corporal punishment is being administered, a reasonable alternative to be offered to the student, and an effort to contact the parent before administering the spanking.

Also, the principal, assistance principal or dean will be the only ones to administer the punishment, and they will use a paddle on the student's buttocks.

But most of yesterday's discussion centered on the issue of corporal punishment itself.

Various community groups including members of the Mexican-American Education Commission, the California State Psychological Association and the Community Relations Conference of Southern California, asked board members to reconsider their acceptance of corporal punishment in the schools.

Margaret Wright, a member of the Black Education Commission, made it clear that the BEC is against corporal punishment in the schools, but went on to list about 11 recommendations for the final guidelines.

"What is the maximum number of swats a child can get at any one time?" Wright asked. "And what happens to the administrator who abuses corporal punishment?"

The two teachers who spoke to the board clearly supported the use of corporal punishment in the schools. The teachers argued that there have been more classroom disruptions by students since the 1975 abolition of spanking because they know they won't be physically punished.

"Shortly after corporal punishment was abolished in the schools, my students started defying me," said James Sebelski, who is a science teacher at San Fernando Junior High School.


After a couple of hours, the board drew up a list of considerations they wanted Thompson's committee to look into. Among these considerations were:

-- A standardized paddle that would be used by every administrator giving punishment.

-- A decision on the maximum number of spanks a child could receive at any one time.

-- The kinds of infractions that would result in corporal punishment.

-- Statistical records including the student's age, sex, race, ethnicity, cause of punishment and who administered the punishment.

-- Punishment to administrators who abuse corporal punishment.

The board gave these, and other recommendations to Thompson, who will meet with his committee to study the public's suggestions. Thompson said he expects to have clearer guidelines in about four weeks.

blob Follow-up: 6 February 1980 - Heads may deliver caning [sic] only with pupils' consent

Hickory Daily Record, North Carolina, 23 November 1979

Parents Suing Alex Principal

$50,000 Lawsuit

TAYLORSVILLE -- A $50,000 lawsuit filed by a student's parents over a spanking by the boy's school principal is scheduled to be heard in early December in Alexander County Superior Court.

The parents of David Brent Barber, 13, are suing Wittenberg Elementary School Principal Steve Watts, claiming that a spanking Watts gave their son in September of last year was too severe.

"This suit is an attempt to get something for nothing," Watts told the Record.

The case has been placed on the Dec. 3 court docket. The suit was filed in April by David Lee Barber and his wife, Peggy Jean Barber.

Watts, 47, said he spanked young Barber, a sixth-grader, for repeatedly misbehaving on a school bus.

The elder Barber appeared before the Alexander County school board in October of last year. He threatened to sue the panel, claiming that his then 12-year-old son came home from school with swollen, black and blue buttocks.

Board members were shown photographs of the boy's bottom taken two days after the spanking. "There's no question that he was severely whipped," said former schools superintendent Dwight L. Isenhour.

At that meeting, Isenhour said he had contacted the state attorney general's office.

Isenhour said he was advised that school administrators could not instruct principals not to use necessary disciplinary action as long as the pupil was not injured.

The elder Barber told the board that Watts had not apologized. He said he wanted compensation for loss of his work time, doctors' bills and other expenses incurred during the episode.

"I have to protect the innocent children on the buses, to get them back and forth safely and keep order," Watts said.

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