Parent reports school paddling

Published 4:58pm Tuesday, March 29, 2011

A parent’s complaint to school officials about her child being paddled has been resolved satisfactorily, School Superintendent Fred Rayfield said.

Last Wednesday evening, the mother of a student at Jones-Wheat Elementary School reported to Bainbridge Public Safety that her child had been punished by Principal Larry Clark. The mother stated her son had been paddled four times with a wooden paddle and showed an officer bruises on her child’s buttocks.

According to Rayfield, the child in question was not punished for fighting with other students, as had been stated in the BPS incident report. However, the superintendent said he could not comment further on the details of the incident out of regard for the student’s privacy.

Rayfield stated that he now considered the matter satisfactorily resolved after the mother had meetings with the superintendent and Clark and with school administrators at Jones-Wheat.

“The meetings went very well,” Rayfield said. “The staff at Jones-Wheat are going to make adjustments related to the treatment of that student.”

According to Rayfield, Clark followed the Decatur County School Board’s policy for the use of corporal punishment.

Among the requirements of the policy, corporal punishment shall not be administered to a child whose parents or legal guardian file “a statement objecting to its use or from a medical doctor licensed in Georgia stating that is detrimental to the child’s mental or emotional stability.”

Rayfield said each student’s parents/guardians are given the opportunity to select whether they approve or disapprove of corporal punishment at the start of each school year. At any time during the school year, parents can change their preference.

“If a parent were to say, for example, that their child is in sixth grade and they don’t want him paddled for the rest of his school career, then we honor that,” Rayfield said.

It’s up to the principal of each school to decide whether or not corporal punishment will be a part of their school’s discipline plan or not.

“Some of them [use it]; some of them don’t,” Rayfield said.

Rayfield said the school board is currently in the process of reviewing its entire policy manual, including the corporal punishment policy.

2009 incident sparked paddling debate

The repeated paddling of a third-grader at Potter Street Elementary in February 2009 prompted a public debate about whether paddling should be allowed in local schools.

Ultimately, the Board of Education disiplined the assistant principal who paddled the child on three different instances in one day. The assistant principal was suspended without pay for 10 days.

Former School Superintendent Ralph Jones had suspended the use of corporal punishment immediately following the incident while the school board discussed and revised its corporal punishment policy.

Decatur County Schools Corporal Punishment Policy
  • rfathman

    Good gosh, what is wrong with this school board? Don’t they read educational literature, belong to any national organizations? All the research says hitting kids with boards at school is harmful there is absolutely no benefit from it. Discipline is better in schools that don’t paddle. And all professional education organizations condemn the practice, and none at all support it. Among the 20 states that have not yet outlawed paddling students, the NM legislature just banned the practice, and no child has been paddled in WY for years, even though it remains legal to do so. That will leave Georgia in a shrinking number of states, 18, where teachers still inflict physical pain on students because the legislature, and Boards like Decatur, are just ignorant of the facts. Stop hitting kids, and you won’t have to “resolve” these kinds of cases.

  • angel123

    Why is this even considered legal? I don’t care if a parent gives permission or not, it shouldn’t be done at a school Period.

  • np

    Grand idea- Keep your children home and home school them if you do not want them punished in the way the school sees fit!!! “Spare the rod spoil the child”

  • joc_iii

    “Spare the rod spoil the child.” It would appear that too many are sparing that rod. Some people like the two that have commented below think that this is wrong, but yet this is effective in the schools whether you think so or not. I grew up in the school system here in Decatur county and did have one or two in my time, and it made a difference whether you think it does or not. Like the third person said, if you don’t want them paddled then home school them. A lot of people comment on matters like this and do not know the all the facts. Truth is this is the only thing that will get some of these kid’s attention. Time-outs don’t work for everyone!

  • angel123

    I recently read a report that over 20,000 students have to get medical attention due to a paddling in the states that allow it in schools. Georgia is in the minority of states (only 20 left) that still hits kids in school, but if a parent took a wooden board and hit their kid, left a bruise, they’d be thrown in jail and rightly so. I think it is incredible hypocrisy that there is so much focus on bullying but it still is o.k. in Georgia to hit children with a wooden board in school. In 2011 I believe kids deserve better and deserve to go to school feeling safe, especially if they already come from an abusive or neglectful home. I would never ever give any school permission or 3rd party permission to hit any of my kids, that’s just asking for trouble, because you never know the motivations of the third party. Kids deserve safe and healthy schools – all kids deserve it. Hitting with wooden boards is not safe or healthy. And to the poster that claims spare the rod, spoil the child – you are quoting old testament. We certainly don’t stone women who are unfaithful in our society like they did back then – and Jesus (New Testament) never advocated hitting children.

  • angel123

    New Mexico Governor just signed into law TODAY to abolish corporal punishment in schools. She has been a strong advocate in the protection of children and a Republican too! Incidentally April is National child abuse prevention month. I think Georgia needs to be next to abolish it. Wonder if any Georgia lawmakers have any backbone like Governor Martinez in NM.

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