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RULER   :  Archive   :  1998   :  US Schools Nov 1998


School CP - November 1998

Corpun file 3271 at


Associated Press, 3 November 1998

No Charges But Principal Resigns After Spanking Incident

PEORIA, ILL. (AP) -- An elementary school principal has resigned after being accused of spanking an 8-year-old boy with a purse strap.

Brenda Powell's departure Monday from Peoria's Glen Oak Primary School came less than a week after Peoria County State's Attorney Kevin Lyons decided not to file criminal charges.

Corporal punishment in public schools is against state law, but the boy's aunt had given Powell permission to physically punish him if he got in trouble, Lyons said.

The boy was sent to the principal's office Oct. 6 for talking back to a teacher after shoving another student.

Powell allegedly held the boy and spanked him on the buttocks. But the strap "wrapped around" the boy's body and made contact with his groin area and leg, Lyons said.

Lyons said Powell's past "exemplary" performance played a role in his decision not to file charges.

District 150 and Powell reached a financial agreement as a condition of her resignation, said School Board attorney David Walvoord.

Powell was named principal at Glen Oak in July 1995. She replaced Linda Fuller, who resigned and later pleaded guilty to official misconduct after district officials discovered more than $6,000 missing in school funds.

Corpun file 3230 at


The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Georgia, 5 November 1998

Elementary teacher sued for hitting student with yardstick

By Celia Sibley

The father of a Kingsley Elementary School student in Dunwoody has filed suit against a fifth-grade teacher, alleging she beat his son on the buttocks and calves last June with a hard rubber yardstick.

Ray Ferguson is suing the teacher, Stephanie Cooper of Decatur, on behalf of his son for an unspecified amount in punitive damages and $50,000 for the boy's pain and suffering.

The suit contends Cooper came into Drew's sixth-grade classroom and asked which students had been involved in a staple-throwing incident. Drew, who was in her class in fifth grade, and two others admitted their involvement, the lawsuit said.

The teacher took the three children to a storage closet she reportedly called the "shed" and hit them lightly on their buttocks, said the father's attorney, John Blount. Drew, who wore shorts that day, then was singled out for more severe punishment and was hit on his bare calves, he said.

Cooper's attorney, Melvin Abercrombie of Decatur, said school officials took "disciplinary action" against Cooper. He would not divulge details, citing attorney-client privilege.

"What actually occurred was a tap with a 12-inch ruler," said Abercrombie. "It was not a dark and serious episode."

Cooper is now based at another school in DeKalb. She had asked for the transfer before the incident, Abercrombie said.

DeKalb school policy requires that all corporal punishment be administered in a private office and by a principal or assistant principal in the presence of a witness who is either a principal, assistant principal or faculty member. It can't be "excessive or severe."

Copyright 1998, The Atlanta Journal and Constitution, All rights reserved.

Corpun file 7655 at


The Times, Trenton, New Jersey, 8 November 1998

Ink Soup

Recalling sorrows of algebra

By Clarence Brown

PRINCETON BOROUGH -- "The little old ramshackle Victoria in the South," of which Marianne Moore wrote in one of her poems, was never so Victorian (nor so ramshackle) as in the public schools that I attended in South Carolina in the '30s and '40s. Latin, oratory, exclusively male companions (and white, it goes without saying), English literature that meant literally the literature of England, not that of the colonies, and corporal punishment.

"Tum up hyeah, Bwown," said Machinegun Mike O'Neal, teacher of mathematics. His crooked finger and sardonic smile summoned me to the front of the room. He theatrically removed his jacket, unbuttoned his shirtcuffs, and rolled the right sleeve back to the elbow. Classmates who could not believe the luck of this windfall spectacle to relieve the tedium of algebra giggled gleefully. And I still have their names.

"Gwab yo' ankles." The speech impediment, like his irascible temperament and perhaps even his insane liking for mathematics, was thought to have derived from his having been gassed in the trenches of the first World War, whence also his sobriquet. When a local hero tells you to gwab, you gwab. I gwabbed.

HE ADMINISTERED 10 thwacks to the back of my lap, as the butt was called in that remote and euphemistic day. I had publicly shown myself incapable of grasping the binomial theorem, whatever that is, and this public, not to say ceremonial, beating was intended to speed the process of my mastering it.

It will dismay most of my friends, or would dismay them in the unlikely event of their ever reading this, to hear that I think there may be something not altogether contemptible in corporal punishment.

I don't, of course, refer to the refined techniques that endanger life or sanity or merely gratify the twisted sadism of the enforcer, but the moderate paddling of juvenile backsides does little damage to those backsides and affords schoolteachers practically the only exercise they get in their professional lives. The psychic harm supposed to be inflicted is mostly the anxious twaddle of the in-house alienists. As for the psychic benefits, they cannot be doubted. As between the binomial theorem and a little honest paddling, coram populo, give me the paddling every time.

There is something positively exhilarating, something absolutely tonic, about walking back to one's desk with dry eyes and the merest suggestion of a smile playing about one's lips. There are worse things in a boy's life than being the cynosure in a classroom full of fellows who are uneasily dubious whether they could have endured a similar ordeal with similar fortitude.

I BORE Machinegun Mike not the slightest ill will. He was in fact, outside of school hours, a friend of my family, though he was socially inferior by many degrees. He lived in a modest bungalow in the country on the margin of a plantation belonging to one of my uncles and within sight of the manor house, to which he was invited at Christmas, along with all the neighbors and field hands.

I would meet him there and relish the reversal of fortune, though I had to keep constantly in mind that after the holidays I would be back in his classroom and just as stupid as always, just as incapable, however he might brutalize me, of knowing what some stupid X might mean once it had consorted with alphabetic characters of an obviously unsuitable sort.

"You wealize, Bwown, that I have to enfowce discipwine," he would say.

"Of course," I would say, moved by his awkward attempt to be ingratiating. "Another glass of punch?"

Clarence Brown is a cartoonist, writer, and professor at Princeton University.

Corpun file 3254 at

PHS Post, magazine of Perryton High School, Texas, 9 November 1998


You guessed it, there is a new tardy policy in effect, find out what it is

By Kelly Scribner

There's been a change at Perryton High School since the beginning of the school year. Recently the school board revised a new tardy policy with many changes.

In the new policy, after the fifth tardy, students must take ALL of their semester exams. At the sixth tardy, they can choose between no extracurricular activities or three swats. For every tardy after that, they have a choice of three swats or three days suspension.

Some think these new rules seem rather harsh, but Assistant Principal Bub McIver responds by pointing out that "We give students four tardies before we start to take disciplinary action."

Last year, every third tardy counted as one day absent in each class.

"This policy gives students a better chance than only having two free tardies," said McIver.

Many students like this new policy. One student said, "I think the new policy will help keep certain students from always interrupting class by being late since there are stronger consequences."

Bub McIver
Assistant Principal

Since the new policy has been in effect, there has been about a 20 percent decrease in the number of tardies at school.

"Where we used to have 50 a day, we are now down to 35 to 45," McIver said.

Since the school began enforcing the new policy, around 50 or 60 students have lost their semester test exemptions, 35 to 40 can't attend school activities, and about 20 have had to choose between three swats or three days suspension.

Some students have said they felt that the new policy may help a little but won't make that much of a difference. McIver explains, "When it will make the difference is after the first semester is over, and students have had to take all their semester exams or skip out of dances. It'll get their attention and they will strive harder to be less tardy."

McIver also said that after students hit the seventh tardy and have to choose three or three, they are much less likely to continue to be tardy. In fact, only about two percent of those who have had to choose three or three are ever really tardy again.

The bottom line is not to punish the students, but to teach them a lesson.

"Students need to realize that if they are continually late for work, they are not going to be able to keep a steady job. In the real world, there aren't warnings, just consequences," said McIver.

blob Follow-up: April 1999: Number of tardy students down second semester

Cincinnati Post, Ohio, 17 November 1998

NCH Board Rejects Paddling In Schools

By Michael Rutledge
Post Staff Reporter

The North College Hill Board of Education slapped down the idea of corporal punishment in the school district with a unanimous vote Monday.

"The board voted unanimously," said Superintendent Stanley Wernz. "They will not be reinstating corporal punishment."

After some in the community proposed the issue, many district residents showed up at three public hearings to loudly oppose it. There was no comment from the audience Monday before the vote.

But during previous hearings, nearly all parents spoke out against the plan for corporal punishment.

One parent, Loria Helton, a mother of three, argued at a September hearing that the school should restore corporal punishment.

Ms. Helton said she uses a paddle on her children at home, and if a paddling policy is approved, "I'll have my husband make the paddles. I punish 'em. I don't abuse them," she said about her children.

Wernz said board members listened to the task force recommendation. "I think the committee did a good job and the board accepted their recommendation."

The 20-person Secondary Local Discipline Task Force, a panel of the school board and community residents voted 15-2 last month to recommend that the ban on corporal punishment remain in effect.

The district banned corporal punishment in 1994 but formed the task force because a state law allows school districts to re-evaluate the policy.

School employees can physically discipline students only when there is a threat of physical injury to others, when they are quelling a disturbance, or obtaining possession of weapons or other dangerous objects.

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