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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 mrolland@opubco.com Published: September 11, 2012
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“Everything was done within the law properly,” Smith said.

“Anytime a child is involved we're going to look at it, it doesn't matter what … but again the law is pretty specific. That's allowed.”

State statute specifically allows parents, teachers and other adults to use “ordinary force as a means of discipline, including but not limited to spanking, switching or paddling.”

DHS says it has no jurisdiction in case

The Cordell police report said that in interviews with all faculty members involved, there “was no sign of excessive force during the administration of the punishment.”

Determination of injury is the key when the Department of Human Services considers whether corporal punishment has crossed the line in a home, a department spokesman said.

“Punishment crosses the line when an injury is involved,” said Mark Beutler, spokesman for DHS, emphasizing the department has no jurisdiction in the educational arena.

“In a home situation, we look at several variables. Those include the age of the child, was an injury sustained, and if so, the location and severity of the injury.”

Overton said corporal punishment is one of several options that his staff uses.

“It's just another option as a consequence for students to try to correct behavior,” Overton said. “That's what discipline is about, trying to correct behavior or inappropriate behavior.”

Another state statute specifically prohibits the state Education Board from interfering with a school's disciplinary policy. So change either would have to occur locally or at the legislative level.

Drew said she is going to take the issue of the district policy to the school board for consideration.

“I realize it's legal in the state, but the school district itself can change their policy,” she said.


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