Berkeley News (, October 10, 1998

Bruises spark school paddling probe

MACEDONIA - Berkeley County School officials recently investigated a paddling incident at Macedonia Middle School after a doctor found bruises on a child's body.

Jeff McWhorter, the school district's director of public safety, was asked to investigate the case after a local doctor contacted the Department of Social Services.

The child's parent has demanded answers from the school district about the severity of the punishment. Last month, school officials at Macedonia Middle recommended that the child be suspended for three days for fighting, according to district spokesperson Pam Bailey. The child's parent requested punishment in the form of a paddling instead of suspension.

Three strikes were administered to the child by a school employee with a witness present. The way that the punishment was administered was not unusual and followed district policy, Bailey said. According to district policy, school officials must have full parental consent before using corporal punishment.

The child's skin was bruised, and the parent took the child to a doctor. The doctor was required to report the bruises to the Berkeley County Department of Social Services. DSS asked McWhorter to investigate the incident. The child's parent could not be reached for comment.

"We are satisfied that the law, policy and procedure have been followed. They were followed at the request of the parent," Bailey said. "But we are concerned. We would never do anything to harm a child." The school district will not release the name of the individual who gave the punishment or the name of the witness. All district employees have been advised not to discuss the incident because the parent may have contacted a lawyer.

Bailey said disciplinary corporal punishment is not used often in the school system. "It isn't used much for this very reason," she said.

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