Woodland Park student center of corporal punishment issue

By | October 17, 2003 12:00 am

Kim Swindell Wood
A Woodland Park Elementary School student is the center of a debate about a spanking given to him by his teacher on Monday.
According to Woodland Park Principal Gary Sparkman, he thought the issue had been settled after he had spoken with the mother of the child on Tuesday. However, a Channel 2 news crew appeared at the school Tuesday afternoon, near the end of the school day.
Sparkman said he did not speak with the television reporters, but he was aware they did speak with the child’s mother. The child is a student in the Comprehensive Development Class (CDC), which, according to Sparkman, is a special needs class.
“He [child] was spanked,” said Sparkman. “The teacher followed all board policies about corporal punishment.”
Sparkman said teachers must follow a procedural policy of documenting how he or she has dealt with a child about behavioral problems. There are step-by-step guidelines that must be followed before using corporal punishment. Sparkman said the teacher had followed all the required guidelines and implemented all the steps before she used corporal punishment.
Donny Haley, White County school superintendent, said he is performing an internal investigation.
“I want to know what happened and why it happened,” said Haley. “This teacher has great credentials, and we are extremely lucky to have her.”
As of 2:30 p.m., on Wednesday, Haley said the mother of the child had never spoken with him about the incident. Haley said a Channel 2 news reporter called him Tuesday afternoon and asked if the mother had ever contacted him, and Haley said, “No.” Haley said he had been to the mother’s residence on Wednesday and had not made any contact with her, but he would continue making trips to the mother’s residence until he made contact with.
The Expositor spoke with the child’s grandmother on Wednesday afternoon, at 3:30, and she said Haley had been to their residence and already set up an appointment for Thursday to talk with the mother and grandmother.
According to the grandmother, she had been with the mother throughout the entire incident.
“When [child] got off the school bus Monday afternoon, he said, ‘Mommy, I got a paddling,’” said the grandmother. “His mother pulled down his pants and looked at his butt.”
The grandmother said the child had a bruise on his buttocks. She [grandmother] then called Sheriff James O’Conner and took the child to O’Conner’s residence for him to look at the child’s alleged bruise.
After leaving O’Conner’s residence, the grandmother said she and the mother took the child to the hospital, where doctors examined the child. They went directly to the sheriff department, where Officer Jeniece England, of Sparta Police Department, filled out a report about the incident.
The grandmother said Officer England called Sparkman, and he told England he would meet with the mother on Tuesday.
“Mr. Sparkman was really upset,” said the grandmother. “He said he would talk to the teacher.”
Sparkman said he apologized to the mother for the bruise on the child’s buttocks.
According to Haley, the teacher has excellent classroom management skills and headed up the behavioral modification team at her previous teaching position.
The Woodland Park principal added, “Most of the parents greeted me this morning [Wednesday] with a positive outlook about the situation. They said they were 100 percent behind me, and I had their full support. We really have a good staff and faculty and wonderful parents at Woodland Park.”

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