Paddle penalty introduced at school after board approval

A school district in Missouri recently announced that it will introduce the option of corporal punishment for students, but the disciplinary action must be approved by parents.

The Cassville School District School Board this summer approved a policy introducing corporal punishment or paddling in schools as a last disciplinary measure, the school said Springfield News leader. Each family has the option of either participating in the policy or rejecting it.

The Cassville School District Student Handbook has a subsection titled Corporal Punishment in the Discipline section.

“Corporal punishment is the use of physical violence as a method of correcting student behavior. Corporal punishment as a measure to correct or maintain discipline and order in schools is permitted,” the handbook said.

“However, it may only be used when all other alternative disciplinary measures have failed, and then only in an appropriate manner and on the recommendation of the Headmaster. Corporal punishment is imposed [sic] just by hitting the buttocks with a paddle.”

school classroom
A school district in Missouri has introduced corporal punishment as a new disciplinary method that parents can choose to use or not.
Michael Loccisano/Getty

Cassville School District Superintendent Merlyn Johnson said that Springfield News leader that although he did not expect to enforce such a method of discipline, many parents demanded some other form of punishment for their children.

“People actually thanked us for that,” Johnson said. “Surprisingly, those on social media would probably be horrified if we said those things, but the majority of people I’ve encountered have supported me.

“This is only for the parents who wish to attend. We respect the choice of every parent, no matter what choice they make.”

Only school principals are allowed to issue the paddling penalty, and another school official must be present as a witness, according to the Springfield News leader.

“When it becomes necessary to use corporal punishment, it must be carried out in such a way that there is no danger of physical injury or harm. Hitting a student on the head or face is not permitted,” the district policy reads Springfield News leader.

According to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, “In the United States, corporal punishment is legal in 19 states (Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Wyoming).

“The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry opposes the use of corporal punishment and supports laws prohibiting its use.”

news week reached out to the Cassville School District for comment.

In a statement sent to news weekA spokesman for the Missouri Department of Education said, “In Missouri, student discipline policies are developed at the local level and are adopted by local boards of education in accordance with state law.”

“Missouri Senate Law 681 goes into effect on August 28, 2022. A provision in this law amends Section 160.261, RSMo, and now requires school districts to notify parents and obtain written permission before using corporal punishment,” the spokesman added.

While the district superintendent said many parents were excited about the new disciplinary methods, one parent spoke to KOLR in Missouri and disagreed.

“I think if they had another option, like counseling services at school instead of corporal punishment, that would be a more appropriate response,” said Miranda Waltrip, who has three children in the school district.

“At the end of the day they have to hold the kid down and beat them up or use whatever means they can to make the kid submissive if that’s not the problem it’s the fact that they need to be heard because kids are from different act for reasons.” Paddle penalty introduced at school after board approval

Rick Schindler

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