Springtown ISD changes corporal punishment policy

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by JIM DOUGLAS

Bio | Email | Follow: @wfaajdouglas

WFAA

Posted on September 24, 2012 at 9:00 PM

Updated Monday, Sep 24 at 10:25 PM

SPRINGTOWN -- The Springtown ISD school board voted to modify the district's student discipline policy at a meeting Monday night.

From now on, parents will have to opt-in to authorize corporal punishment and will also choose whether they want a male or female staff member to administer any punishment.

The changes follow an outcry after two parents said a male vice principal had paddled their daughters, in apparent violation of the district's policy, which specified that only a same-gender staffer would be responsible for that type of punishment.

The story sparked interest far beyond the borders of this small Parker County town.

"I have tried to be very professional and not personal about it," said a tearful Anna Jorgensen, whose daughter was one of those who was paddled. "I didn't know the media would turn it into all of this, and I feel very sorry for putting Springtown in that spot."

Everyone at the Springtown ISD board meeting wished they could take back the swat heard 'round the world.

Last week, Jorgensen told News 8 that the district had violated its same-sex paddling policy when a male administrator bruised her daughter's bottom.

The story went international when Cathi Watt complained that the same thing had happened to her daughter.

"These men that swat these girls, they are telling the boys in the school, 'It's okay to hit a girl and it's okay to bruise a girl,' and that's not right," Watt told board members Monday night.

In response, the school board changed its policy, now requiring parents to put in writing any request for corporal punishment for their kids, and the administrator to deliver it.

Previously, corporal punishment was permitted unless a parent or guardian had "provided a signed statement prohibiting its use."

But there's still emotional brusing for the girls who complained.

"Mean girls won't make it very far in life, and they have been very mean to Taylor over the last days," Jorgensen said. "If you could only see what's on Facebook."

Jada Watt's mother said her daughter is also a victim. "Jada has been tormented all day long by kids," she said.

Several parents and students rose to defend the male assistant high school principal who administered the corporal punishment to Jada and Taylor, saying he wasn't even aware of the district's same-sex paddling policy that took effect quietly last year.

The challenge now is healing, and the superintendent said high school counselors will be helping with that.

E-mail jdouglas@wfaa.com

 

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