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Mother of paddled Oklahoma student files police report against principal

After considering the complaint about Cordell School District, the district attorney who oversees five Oklahoma counties including Washita County decided no law was broken, but a concerned mother wants the school policy changed.
BY MEGAN ROLLAND Published: September 11, 2012

When Linda Drew's 12-year-old son came home from Cordell Elementary School with bruises from a paddling, she filed a police report against the principal even though her husband had given permission for the swats.

“I expected his bottom to maybe be red, but he had a bruise that was 8 centimeters by 7 centimeters on each butt cheek and the bruises lasted for three days,” Drew said. “I feel that that was excessive force.”

The principal hit her son twice with a wooden paddle.

The district attorney in the case didn't bring charges, saying this instance of corporal punishment was clearly not against the law.

Oklahoma is one of about 20 states to allow corporal punishment in schools.

From a ruler across the knuckles to a wood paddle to the behind, every state school district drafts its own policy for corporal punishment.

Some ban it, and some highly regulate it.

Cordell Schools Superintendent Brad Overton said the district's policy gives parents the choice to opt out of corporal punishment in the beginning of the year.

If a student doesn't have an opt-out form on file, Overton said parents are contacted before corporal punishment is administered and given options. Another certified teacher must be present for the punishment, he said.

Overton said those policies were followed.

Drew's husband was given the option of “two-swats and be done with it,” Linda Drew said, or several days of detention or in-school suspension.

He chose the swats.

“I feel that my son needed to be punished and shouldn't be fighting in school, but he doesn't need to be beat,” Linda Drew said.

Drew said she took her son to Cordell Memorial Hospital, where they filed a police report against Paul Pankhurst, the junior high school principal who administered the corporal punishment.

DA finds no crime

District Attorney Dennis Smith, who oversees five counties including Washita County, where Drew's son attends Cordell Public Schools, said his office reviewed the police report and found that no crime had been committed.

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