Monday, October 26, 2009

NC: Corporal punishment ban on school board agenda

By Kathy Chaffin

October 25, 2009

Among the items on the agenda for Monday's Rowan-Salisbury Board of Education meeting is a proposed revision to the student discipline and punishment policy which would ban corporal punishment.

The revision reads:

"No principal, teacher, substitute teacher, voluntary teacher, teacher assistant, student teacher or staff member may use corporal punishment to discipline a student. Corporal punishment is any kind of punishment inflicted on the body, including but not limited to, spanking, paddling or slapping.

"Not withstanding the policy prohibiting the use of corporal punishment as a means of discipline, school personnel may use reasonable force to control behavior or to remove a person from the scene in these situations when necessary:

- "To quell a disturbance threatening injury to others;

- "To obtain possession of weapons or other dangerous objects on the person or within the control of a student;

- "For self defense;

- "For the protection of persons or property or;

- "To restrain or correct pupils or otherwise maintain order."

Board members voted Sept. 28 to ask Dr. Walter Hart, assistant superintendent for administration, to revise the policy. Karen South Carpenter brought up the issue, saying she received an e-mail from a parent questioning why the school system still allowed corporal punishment and that it reminded her of her own concerns as well.

As written, the current policy states: "The use of corporal punishment is discouraged as a means of developing self-direction by students in matters of personal conduct. However, when other efforts have not produced desired results, reasonable corporal punishment may be administered under conditions outlined by law."

This would be replaced by the proposed revision if approved by the board.

According to Hart, only five of the system's schools — all elementary — still use corporal punishment: Bostian, Hanford Dole, Hurley, Isenberg and Koontz. "Ironically, when it happens," he said, "it's typically because the parents ask for it."

Rita Foil, public information officer for the school system, said Hart will likely explain the revision to board members Monday, after which they may discuss it and possibly recommend changes. The board typically waits until a second reading to approve a revision but may opt to waive a second reading and go ahead and vote on it.

iPod update: Also on the agenda for Monday's meeting is a presentation by Darrell McDowell, principal of North Rowan High School, on the iPod Touch Project and how it is changing teaching and learning practices at the school.

Other items: Other discussion items include an update by Dr. Rebecca Smith, assistant superintendent for curriculum, on the Closing the Achievement Gap Committee, which meets every other month and is comprised of representatives from the school system, community agencies, businesses and the faith community; and an overview of staff development activities planned for the afternoon of the Oct. 29 Early Release Day. Schools will dismiss 2.5 hours earlier than their regular dismissal time.

Redistricting not on agenda: The proposed high school redistricting is not on the agenda to be discussed, though board members always have the option to amend the agenda to discuss it.

The first public hearing on the proposed redistricting plan, which would change all the high school districts except Salisbury High School's, is scheduled for Monday, Nov. 2 at 6 p.m. in the Knox Middle School auditorium. A second public hearing will be held the following Monday, the 9th, in the Southeast Middle School gym at 6 p.m.

This Monday's board meeting will be held at 5 p.m. in the auditorium of the school system's administrative offices at 110 N. Long St., East Spencer. The public is invited to attend.

Contact Kathy Chaffin at 704-797-4249.

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