The Warrick County school board recently voted to remove corporal punishment from the student discipline policy.
The policy defined corporal punishment as a "penalty for misbehavior and may be administered by authorized school personnel, unless an individual parent or guardian files a written statement with a school principal requesting that corporal punishment not be administered to his/her child or children. The filing of such a statement by a parent or guardian may result in a one to five day suspension in or out of school for a disruptive child or children in lieu of corporal punishment. If corporal punishment becomes imperative as a 'last resort' consequence for disruptive behavior, except in cases where a parent or guardian has filed a written statement with a building principal requesting that corporal punishment not be administered to their child, the parent or guardian will first be notified verbally prior to administering such punishment. Written notification will later be mailed to the parent or guardian." The policy also stated that it was permitted in the elementary schools only.
Warrick County school superintendent Brad Schneider said corporal punishment is antiquated and that the school board decided to look at removing it from the discipline policy after some parents voiced their concerns about it.
"To be honest, eliminating it was probably something that was long overdue," he said.
Schneider said although it was technically a part of the discipline policy, they hadn't used it in more than 25 years.
"We had a couple of parents express concerns about it and we assured them that even though it was in the policy, it was not an option," he said. "So the policy and curriculum committee looked at it and thought removing it was the right thing to do."
Schneider said the corporal punishment clause of the discipline policy also would not have protected substitute teacher Margaret Shively, who was charged with battery on a child under the age of 14 for allegedly roughly grabbing and leaving red marks on a 10-year-old student at Sharon Elementary in Newburgh in March of last year. Her case was dropped in July after a Warrick County Superior Court Judge granted a dismissal and refunded her $10,000 bond.
"That substitute teacher grabbed a student and we are very specific that the only time we physically restrain a student is if they are a danger to themselves or others and we had video of the incident and those were not the case," Schneider said. "This child was not a danger to himself or others and therefore teachers, substitute teachers, school personnel, they are not going to physically handle children."
Schneider said they do have a restraint policy, but that it is also only used in extreme circumstances.
"We educate our teachers on how to safely restrain students," he said, "but certain criteria
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have to be present in order for us to be physically able to do that."
Schneider said although corporal punishment is still technically written into the 2018-2019 Warrick County school corporation handbook, it will not be acknowledged.
"So when the handbooks go out next year, that will no longer be in there," he said.