A Georgia public charter school is returning to the use of “paddling” as a discipline measure for its students.
The Georgia School for Innovation and the Classics (GSIC) – a kindergarten through grade 9 charter school in Hephzibah, Georgia – has sent home consent forms to parents informing them of the reinstatement of paddling as a form of punishment for unacceptable behavior.
“In this school, we take discipline very seriously,” said Jody Boulineau, superintendent of GSIC, reports local CBS affiliate WRDW. “There was a time where corporal punishment was kind of the norm in school and you didn’t have the problems that you have.”
“It’s just one more tool that we have in our disciplinary toolbox that we can use,” Boulineau added.
According to the report, parents received a “consent to paddle form,” requesting permission to hit their child with a wooden paddle.
“There’s no obligation, it’s not required,” said the superintendent. “A parent can either give consent for us to use that as a disciplinary measure or they can deny consent.”
The form states that “a student will be taken into an office behind closed doors. The student will place their hands on their knees or piece of furniture and will be struck on the buttocks with a paddle.”
GSIC intends to use paddling based on the three-strike rule. A third offense of misbehavior could draw paddling as a consequence.
According to the form, students will receive no more than three “licks” when they are paddled. If parents choose not to opt for paddling as a disciplinary measure, they must agree to five days of suspension.
“I honestly feel like it’s something that’s not going to be used very often,” the superintendent said. “Sometimes it’s just kind of the threat of it being there becomes a deterrent in itself.”
Boulineau said his office has received some 100 forms from parents with about a third granting permission for paddling. He noted the variety of responses he has received from parents.
“I’ve heard ‘Great, it’s about time,’ ‘We’re so glad that this is happening again,’ ‘They should’ve never taken it out of schools,’” he explained. “All the way to, ‘Oh my goodness I can’t believe you are doing that.’”
According to the school’s handbook, the GSIC “core values” are “wisdom, justice, courage, compassion, hope, respect, responsibility, and integrity.”
These values “are taught directly to students, reflected in the school code of conduct, and modeled in all interactions among members of the school community,” states the handbook.
“Building strong character is fundamental to creating a positive learning environment and a hallmark of GSIC,” it continues, adding that the school works toward ensuring each student follows “the accepted school code of conduct and shows respect for and obeys persons in authority.”
GSIC’s manual also says the school strives to help students develop “a positive attitude toward self-discipline,” and to maintain “a learning atmosphere which is safe, conducive to the learning process, and free from unnecessary disruption.”
Finally, the handbook states the school communicates to “students, teachers, parents, and the community that unacceptable behavior will not be tolerated.”