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School CP - February 1995

Corpun file 03650

Missouri Digital News, 7 February 1995

Spanking Ban for Schools

By Lisa Robinett
State Capital Bureau

JEFFERSON CITY -- Paddles still ominously hang on office walls of some Missouri principals. But they would be used to hit the road after this year if some lawmakers get their way.

Sen. Joe Moseley, D-Columbia, is pushing legislation to ban corporal punishment in schools. His bill was designed to introduce children to non-physical conflict resolution.

"This is a proactive measure to eliminate the use of force by those who are role models," Moseley told a hearing of the Senate Education Committee. "Violence is a continuum."

Most of the larger school districts in Missouri, including the Columbia school district, already have banned corporal punishment. But many smaller schools still spank unruly students.

Supporters of the right to use corporal punishment say that the local districts should decide the issue. This would allow parents to prescribe disciplinary measures for their children.

A committee substitute for Moseley's bill was introduced, but defeated by one vote.

The substitute was designed to help settle the local control issue. It would allow each school district to decide its own policy, which is the current policy. However, Moseley said it would make districts articulate their policies.

Under the substitute rejected by the committee, parents who live in a district with corporal punishment that don't want their child paddled also have options. The substitute contained a provision for parents to opt out of it by filing a request with the school board. Moseley said Columbia followed this practice before it outlawed corporal punishment.

Although the substitute was voted down by Senate Education Committee, Moseley said he's not given up on the idea for this session, and is considering ways to revive the issue.

Each district's policy would not have been permanent, under the substitute.

"It would have required them re-visit the issue every two years," Moseley said.

The Missouri National Education Association joined Moseley in opposing corporal punishment.

"It teaches children that violence is an acceptable way to get what you want," said Bob Quinn, lobbyist for MNEA.

But supporters of spanking argue sparing the rod can spoil the child.

"I don't believe corporal punishment is violence,'' said John Appleman, who said he came before the Senate committee to speak just as a parent. "It's an act of love."

Because local districts currently set their own policies on corporal punishment, Missouri's Education Department does not have any statistics about the number of children who are punished each year.

An independent agency presented its own estimate. About 16,000 students were paddled in Missouri during the 1992-1993 school year, said Fern Hammerman, spokeswoman for Missouri Coalition to Ban Corporal Punishment in Schools. She said that 10 percent of those paddled were diagnosed with a physical, behavioral, or educational disability.

"They were spanked when they were attempting to do their best," said Hammerman.

Opponents to corporal punishment say that it interferes with the learning environment because students shouldn't be constantly in fear of corporal punishment.

"They need to be in a safe learning environment," said Brenda Smith, a teacher in Southwest Missouri.

But others say that the threat of spanking ensures that learning takes place in the classroom.

"They cannot teach without first establishing good discipline," said Gary Sharp, lobbyist for Missouri Association of School Administrators and Missouri Association of Elementary School Principals. "As much child abuse occurs from the lack of discipline as the overuse of it."

Smith said that teachers should concentrate on problem solving and personal growth.

"Corporal punishment is not going to help them in their lifelong goals," Smith said. "They should be taught how to make moral judgments and how to act responsibly toward others."

But supporters of corporal punishment rights say that alternative punishment techniques don't always work.

"Corporal punishment is only used as a last resort and after all other alternatives," said Sharon Shain, the principal of Clearmont Elementary in West Nodaway County and a representative of MAESP.

The senator was unsure whether he would be able to pass the bill out of committee.

"There's no use bringing it out again until I think I can get that vote," Moseley said.

Another option would be to attach the provision to another bill, Moseley said.

"These type of bills make good vehicles," he said.

Corpun file 06521
Pecos Enterprise, Texas, 10 February 1995

P-B-T board extends use of paddling


PECOS, Feb 10, 1995 - Pecos-Barstow-Toyah Independent School District Board members extended contracts for one year for most administrative personnel, and reinstated corporal punishment at the district's seventh and eighth grade middle schools during their regular monthly meeting Thursday night.

Corporal punishment (using a paddle) was reinstated at both Zavala and Crockett Middle schools. The paddle will be used following the guidelines of the Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD's Board policy and in keeping with the laws of the State of Texas.

Corporal punishment will be an option only for Class C violations of the Student Handbook which include the following: confrontation (hallway disturbance, profanity, etc.), insubordination (unacceptable language or refusal to cooperate), forgery of notes, skipping and possession of tobacco products/smoking.

"The high school currently has corporal punishment also," said board member Jaroy Moore.


Corpun file 00915

Newsday, New York, 24 February 1995

Readin', Writin', Hittin'

Corporal punishment on rise

By Liz Willen
Staff Writer

For the second year in a row, complaints of corporal punishment in the city's public schools are on the rise, according to data obtained by New York Newsday.

During the 1993-94 school year, a total of 1,352 complaints were reported, compared with 1,195 during the previous year. The numbers have been going up for years, and many blame severe overcrowding, staff reductions and a lack of training.

"The numbers are not acceptable," said Robert Reich, director of the Board of Education's Office of Appeals and Reviews, whose staff of two hears from eight to 10 complaints a day about corporal punishment. "I'm concerned that many people new to the profession aren't receiving training on how to deal with tough situations."

Reich said his office was able to conclude that corporal punishment - which has been illegal since 1985 - occurred in 15 percent of the complaints. But school sources estimate that corporal punishment occurred in an additional 25 percent of the cases, which were handled by administrators in the 32 local districts.

Most cases involve teachers, but include principals, paraprofessionals and other aides. In addition, 38 substitutes were fired for using corporal punishment last year, Reich said.

Schools Chancellor Ramon Cortines blames the rise in corporal punishment on cuts in programs that counsel disruptive and hyperactive students, along with tense, overcrowded conditions. But that is not an excuse, he added.

"I really do understand the frustration of teachers and principals, but when we have to resort to corporal punishment to bring children in line, we've really lost it," he said.

But Cortines said he is heartened by a drop in the number of repeat offenders, which fell from 179 during the 1991-92 school year to 88 last year. And he pointed out that the data show a drop in districts that participated in preventative workshops - something he would like to see more.

Dozens of the complaints Reich's office investigates involve allegations of verbal abuse, many from parents upset with the way teachers treat their children. More serious cases are referred to Marlene Malamy, director of the Chancellor's Office of Special Investigation - who handled 72 cases last year.

The more serious cases included a Bronx substitute teacher charged with six counts of assault after she allegedly struck six first-graders with her pointer at a Bronx elementary school. Others include a teacher found to be hitting children and cracking yard sticks across desk tops to maintain order and a substitute teacher who tried to confine a student behind a closet door with a piece of cardboard. The student received contusions when the teacher grabbed him by the neck, reports show.

Exact figures were not available yesterday, but Reich acknowledged that a disproportionate number of cases involve special education students and staff.

United Federation of Teachers spokesman Ron Davis also said the corporal punishment increase is in keeping with the rise of violence against UFT staffers - up by 8.6 percent last year.

"We had 2,241 staff members hurt last year," Davis said, adding that the rise in corporal punishment will probably continue.

Copyright 1996, Newsday Inc.

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