In April, the issue of paddling will be discussed by the Marion County School Board to determine whether it should be reinstated in the school code of conduct.
The issue will be discussed in a public forum, said school board member Nancy Stacy.
Stacy, who is in support of paddling, said she is confident it will be added to the code of conduct for the upcoming school year.
“We’re having children suspended from school, on the streets,” she said. “Many parents would prefer their children get a couple little swats on the bottom instead of turning them loose, unsupervised on the streets for 10 days.”
Bobby James, a school board member who is against paddling, said there are very few positive results that come from using paddles on students.
“I have problems with it. I know the statistics and the numbers are on my side,” he said. “There is nothing there that shows that it improves the child’s behavior other than a temporary fix for a problem that may have some deep-down existing cause.”
Stacy said she believes her real-world experiences with paddling prove its success. In seventh grade, a teacher solved her behaviorial problems with paddling, and Stacy said she might have turned out way differently without this form of discipline.
“Thank goodness a teacher cared enough about me to turn me around with a paddling,” she said. “I’m walking, living proof that paddling works. I also paddled by own children. I have two engineers and a math major. You can’t argue with results.”
James said he would rather use the methods Marion County schools already have in place, such as sending misbehaving students to an alternative school for a day if they need to be disciplined.
“In terms of what we can do, we’re already doing a lot of neat things,” he said. “And we have shown that there has been a tremendous drop in students misbehavior by using our present policies.”
Paddling was removed from Marion County in the 2009-2010 school year, according to the Ocala Star-Banner. The article also reports that of the five school board members, only James is openly against reinstating paddling.
“Who’s going to inservice administrators on paddling?” he asked. “What’s the proper technique? Is there a proper weight for a paddle? Do we use a belt? It’s just too complicated for us to be involved in that type of behavior.”
Stacy said that she is not worried about paddling being a liability. She said with parents permission and teacher discretion, paddling could be very successful.
James said despite parent’s permission, there is still the chance that schools and the school board could be held liable for student injuries. He said parents sometimes change their mind after they give permission for something.
“If the parents give permission, let them do it,” he said.