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School Spankings Opposed By Board

A resolution opposing spanking in schools was passed Thursday by the North Carolina Board of Education.

Only a handful of districts still allow corporal punishment - on of them is Western North Carolina's McDowell County.

But Thursday's decision is largely symbolic. The board doesn't have the authority to ban paddling and current state law allows districts to choose whether to administer paddlings and, in McDowell County classrooms, spanking still stands.

East McDowell Junior High School hasn't used corporal punishment to discipline a student so far this year, but there's a paddle in the office, and their policy is three smacks to the bottom, administered by the principal.

"We do take our disciplinary actions seriously," said Kay Tate, interim personnel directors for McDowell County School District. "We want to help our students become good students, and to become good citizens, and we want to train them on what's appropriate behavior in school."

Tate says the district employs the spankings as a form of discipline because it's effective.

"We would hope that whatever type of punishment that we had to administer a student would be effective," said Tate.

Mcdowell is a school district of roughly 6,000 students, and there were 29 paddlings last school year. It's a number that's been falling for years.

"Our staff make a concerted effort not to use corporal punishment unless they have to," says Tate.

When to invoke it is stipulated in a set of guidelines: It's not meant for things like gum chewing or tardiness, but allowed for things like using "vulgar" language or smoking.

Tate says parents must grant permission for their child to be paddled, and that at the beginning of each school year parents have the option to sign a waiver saying they do not want their child to be spanked.

"That's a very iffy situation when it comes to spanking someone else's child," says Marion daycare owner Dean Stevens, who says his staff use other techniques to discipline the children. "I would feel more comfortable if the parent is involved in the correction of their own child."

All but nine out of 115 districts have banned the practice, according to Action for Children North Carolina.

By Ashlea Surles
Follow Ashlea on Twitter @AshleaSurles


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