April 14, 2013

Muscogee schools may ban corporal punishment


— COLUMBUS (AP) — The Muscogee County school board is scheduled to vote April 22 on whether to ban corporal punishment, which has been used frequently in the past.

Interim Superintendent John Phillips has recommended a ban. The Columbus Ledger-Enquirer reports that the scheduled vote comes after Tekicia Yancie complained to school officials that her 11-year-old daughter was badly bruised by three licks she received after being accused of bullying.

Yancie said she had the choice of allowing an assistant principal to paddle her daughter or accept a three-day suspension for the sixth-grader from East Columbus Magnet Academy.

She permitted the paddling on Feb. 22, but became concerned when her daughter told her that night, “Mom, my bottom is hurting.” She said her daughter had red and purple bruising. She took a photo of the bruises, reported the incident to police and took her daughter to the hospital, where she received medication for pain. Her daughter ended up missing four days of school, she said.

School system spokesman Valerie Fuller and the district’s student services chief, Melvin Blackwell, said the assistant principal followed corporal punishment policy and did not use excessive force.

Yancie has not filed suit or brought charges because she said she wants to see if the school board will approve the ban. School officials said they were working on a possible ban before the Yancie case.

The Ledger-Enquirer reported incidents of corporal punishment in the school district were 738 in the 2009-2010 school year, 866 in 2010-2011, 867 in 2011-2012, and 590 through March 1 of this school year.

School board Chairman Rob Varner said a ban will take away the possibility of getting sued in the future. “Why put yourself through that? There are other ways to get a student’s attention for discipline,” he said.

Jim Buntin, who served as Muscogee County superintendent in 1995-1996, said corporal punishment “isn’t the instrument for every infraction and every child,” but it should remain an option.