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Texas Mother Questions If School’s Corporal Punishment Was Excessive

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MERRILL HOPE
Lubbock, TX

One West Texas mother voiced concerns this week over her elementary school’s use of corporal punishment, questioning if an assistant principal went too far when reprimanding her son who, allegedly, came home with sizable bruises.

Michelle Decker said she was not against the use of corporal punishment. She told KLBK: “I spank my children but I would never hurt him the way he was hurt.”

According to Decker, she noticed her son Gianni, a fifth grade student at Roosevelt Elementary, came home limping after receiving “three swats” for talking back to his teacher. Decker asked the boy to show her the injury. “He pulled his pants down and I immediately started crying.”

Previously, Decker received a phone call from the assistant principal at the Lubbock area elementary school telling her that the school intended to discipline her son for mouthing off in class. The assistant principal, listed on the school’s website as Theresa Hoffman, gave the boy two options for his misbehavior — three days of In-School Suspension (ISS) or get “three swats.”

Decker said: “Gianni told me he didn’t want to go to ISS, he said, ‘I’ll take the swats, mom.'”

ISS is a newer convention of Texas student discipline where a “suspended” child remains sequestered in a study hall-like environment on campus rather than be sent home for a traditional suspension. This allows schools to receive Average Daily Attendance (ADA) dollars, a combination of state and federal funds that school districts receive each day per student for showing up. However, school-to-prison pipeline experts criticize ISS as it goes on students’ school records and the room is not staffed by a certified teacher, as Breitbart Texas reported.

Thus, Gianni chose the swats, which left him with large bruises on his buttocks area, according to a photo taken by his mother.

Roosevelt Independent School District Superintendent Dallas Grimes responded in a statement: “Corporal punishment has been approved by the Roosevelt ISD Board of Trustees as an appropriate disciplinary consequence for Code of Conduct violations. Corporal punishment is an option all parents/guardians have the option of opting out of any time. Parents/guardians verbally authorize their consent immediately prior to the punishment being administered each time it is used.”

The Roosevelt ISD Student Code of Conduct states all students remain subject to corporal punishment unless a parent opts their child out of the practice in a written correspondence by the first week of each school year or the first week after a new student enrolls in the district. The school district notes the practice “is limited to spanking or paddling.” Corporal punishment can only be administered by school administrators like a principal, assistant principal, or a campus behavior coordinator; however, the superintendent may authorize a teacher to dole out the punishment which must be administered in the presence of one other district “professional employee” and done without other students present.

Student Codes of Conduct established in all Texas school districts are based on the 1995 Texas Safe Schools Act and Chapter 37 of the Texas Education Code, the latter which defines corporal punishment as “the deliberate infliction of physical pain by hitting, paddling, spanking, slapping, or other physical force used as a means of discipline.” It notes the practice does not include pain inflicted by “reasonable physical activities associated with athletic training, competition, or physical education” or the “use of restraint.”

In the statement, Grimes concluded: “The school district has investigated the concerns to determine if policy and procedures were followed. At this time, Roosevelt ISD is confident all policies and procedures were adhered to in this situation.”

This summer, the Corpus Christi area Three Rivers ISD triggered an uproar when the school board authorized the use of corporal punishment as a disciplinary tool. The Corpus Christi Caller-Times reported that school districts are not required to report corporal punishment incidents to the Texas Education Agency. The U.S. Department of Education’s National Center on Safe Supporting Learning Environment shows Texas as one of 15 states that allow corporal punishment, although many Texas school districts no longer use it.

Follow Merrill Hope, a member of the original Breitbart Texas team, on Twitter.

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