Did school paddling go too far? - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Did school paddling go too far?

October 4, 2006

Tifton - - The parents of a five year old boy have pulled him out of the Tift County public school system saying he was given an excessive paddling. The student was paddled at Annie Bell school for fighting in the lunchroom. And even though his parents consented to the discipline, they now say the administrator went too far. They say their child was left with bruised buttocks.

In grade school, schools have several methods of disciplining students - time out, a conduct cut, maybe even detention. Paddling is also an option, if the parent gives consent. But one Tift County family says the corporal punishment went too far.

You take your children to school to learn and if your kids go to Annie Bell Clark Primary School, they'd better not get into a conflict... Administrators will paddle your child.

"Most students think they can do anything they want to do and get by with it," says Shirley Strawbridge.

Many parents we spoke with in Tifton agree with the school's policy. And so did one parent Melanie Webb until she said the administrator at Annie Belle Clark took it to the extreme and left bruises on the child's bottom.

We went to Interim School Superintendent Patrick Atwater for answers - he refused an on-camera interview, but issued a statement saying he supports the actions of the school's staff and no wrongful actions took place.

The school's policy says a faculty member can administer corporal punishment, or paddling, but it must be in the presence of a witness and the parent has to give permission.

"It shouldn't be like a beating, it should just be a mild spanking or put him in a corner or something you know," Strawbridge says.

"If it was one of my kids and I gave permission to do it, I didn't give you permission to kill my youngin but I did give you permission to paddle them if they need it," says Betty Brown.

The case is now on the desk of the Tift County District Attorney.

The mother who brought the complaint against the school asked the Superintendent if her 5 year old son could be switched to another school. Atwater told her no. So the parent, reportedly, withdrew her son and enrolled him into a private school.

We made several calls to District Attorney Paul Bowden today to find out if he plans to prosecute the school administrator. Our calls were not returned. '

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