Johnson City Press: Split Elizabethton school board approves corporal punishment policy on first reading

Split Elizabethton school board approves corporal punishment policy on first reading

John Thompson • Updated Jan 25, 2018 at 8:50 AM

ELIZABETHTON — A divided Elizabethton City School Board approved on first reading Tuesday night a policy allowing corporal punishment. The final approval of the policy will be made at next month’s school board meeting.

The policy says “any principal, assistant principal or teacher may use corporal punishment in a reasonable manner against any student for good cause in order to maintain discipline and order within the public schools.”

The policy goes on to define corporal punishment as “spanking (striking the buttocks with the open hand) and/or paddling (striking the the buttocks with a paddle). All other forms of physical punishment are expressly forbidden.”

Other parts of the policy require the instrument used to be approved by the principal and the punishment must be performed in the presence of another professional employee.

Last month, the proposed policy had been amended by board member Phil Isaacs to specify that parents shall be notified before corporal punishment is administered.

Prior to the vote, board member Susan Peters noted that this was the fourth month that the corporal punishment policy had been discussed.

“You all know how I feel,” Peters said. “I do not feel corporal punishment should be within the purview of public schools, I realize the parents have the option of it. … I don’t think with all the anti-bullying and anti-violence that we preach to the children that we should have the option of using any kind of physical violence with the children.”

None of the other board members commented on the policy Tuesday night. It passed by a vote of 3-1, with Peters casting the only opposition vote. Board member Tyler Fleming was absent.

Following the meeting, Peters said she thought it was a step backward, that some systems in surrounding counties have stopped using corporal punishment.

In other matters, Director of Schools Corey Gardenhour reported on a broken pipe that caused damage to classrooms at Harold McCormick Elementary School. The insurance company is working on the problem, Gardenhour said.

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