Sparing the rod: A survey

Tuesday, August 21, 2001
Page 15A

Sparing the rod: A survey

Houston schools opened Monday with a new directive: no more paddling.

The school board voted to ban corporal punishment, and teachers are learning classroom management skills to discipline students and build, rather than tear down, self-esteem.

“I don’t like beating kids,” Superintendent Kaye Stripling said. “We are a sophisticated society that can learn ways to discipline children other than hitting them.”

Twenty-seven states forbid corporal punishment. Texas leaves the decision up to local districts. Here is a roundup of policies in school districts across the region, compiled by Dallas Morning News staff writers:


Dallas: Corporal punishment is allowed in Dallas as long as it is “reasonable and moderate and may not be administered maliciously or for the purpose of revenge,” according to school board policy. “Everything really comes down to a decision of the principal and how they choose to discipline a student,” said spokeswoman Loretta Simon. — Joshua Benton in Dallas

Plano: District policy permits spanking by principals, assistant principals or teachers, but it is rarely used, said Carole Greisdorf, a special assistant to the superintendent. “Essentially, it’s a nonissue for us because we don’t do it, but the ability to do it is in our policy,” she said. The guidelines require administrators to inform parents of the punishment before it takes place. Parents can also submit written requests instructing the district not to use corporal punishment on their children. — Katie Menzer in Plano

East Texas: The Tyler Independent School District allows corporal punishment – and some parents even request it, said Gerald Barnes, an assistant superintendent. Parents are notified before a student is paddled, or parents can file requests with principals forbidding it for their children. But few parents have filed such written objections, he said. “Many times we’ve had people request corporal punishment, thinking they’d rather have that as an easy way out, a
quick way to accomplish the discipline method.” — Lee Hancock in Tyler


Austin: Austin has not allowed corporal punishment for several years, said spokeswoman Nicole Wright. — Terrence Stutz in Austin

San Antonio: It bars any form of corporal punishment. “The district has long felt that physical punishment isn’t a beneficial way to deal with student disciplinary needs,” said Carmen Vasquez-Gonzalez, communications director. — David McLemore in San Antonio

Oklahoma City: The school district banned all paddling in 1989. “They just believe that corporal punishment is not an effective educational tool,” said spokesman Todd Stogner. — Arnold Hamilton in Oklahoma City

El Paso: El Paso schools outlawed it a decade ago, along with other forms of physical discipline, such as running laps, because of legal threats and a consensus that “corporal punishment has never improved behavior,” said spokesman Luis Villalobos. “There has to be more one-on-one communication between a school and parent whenever there is a behavior problem that could in the past be resolved with corporal punishment.” — Diane Jennings in Dallas

Richardson: The district banned corporal punishment in the mid-1980s because of the “belief that other disciplinary actions are more appropriate,” said spokeswoman Jeanne Guerra. She said student or parent conferences, or peer mediation, are encouraged instead. Some Richardson schools order detention or demerits for student rule-breakers. — Lesley Tellez in Richardson