Laurel, Mississippi schools OK corporal punishment
By Nathan Martin, LL-C Correspondent, Laurel Leader-Call, August 9, 2006

Excused absences are out, and corporal punishment is in, according to the Tuesday night decision of the Laurel School Board. Those decisions were part of the Laurel School Board’s monthly meeting at the Gardiner administration building, which saw a number of items pass across the legislative table.

The decision over whether to reimplement corporal punishment in the Laurel School District came after discussion and careful deliberation over the possible ramifications of implementing that policy.

“Teachers must realize that this policy does not shield them from the possibility of a lawsuit if they overstep this policy,” said Laurel School District Superintendent Dr. Glenn Magee. “They have to make sure that they stay within the guidelines of this policy.”

Discussing the policy with the board’s attorney, Richard Yoder, the board spent a considerable amount of time examining the policy before voting on the proposed change.

“Most all school districts have some policy concerning corporal punishment and most of them use it,” said Yoder. “It’s been seen to be more effective in elementary school than in high school, but these schools know that they have it, if it is wanted to be used.”

According to Laurel School District policy, females cannot be disciplined by males, and parents do not have to sign a consent form in order for discipline to be enforced. Teachers and principals were gathered at the meeting Tuesday night, to voice their approval for the proposed punishment plan.

“It is hard to do things in classrooms when kids tell us that we can’t do anything to them, because their parents won’t allow it,” said one teacher. “Without discipline it is hard to teach kids correctly.”

After consulting these teachers, and discussing the plan among themselves, board members voted to adopt corporal punishment into the accepted policy.

“This protects the students, administrators and educators as best as possible,” said board member Mike Axton. “I think we should vote to adopt the plan.”

One other policy change of note during the evening dealt with excused absences. While students could obtain a doctor’s excuse and not be charged with a tardy violation, this coming year students will have no excused absences. School officials said that students are given five tardies each semester and these would be sufficient for any absences.

Cell phones were also banned from classtime at city schools. Any student with a cell phone visible during school hours will have his or her phone confiscated, and will not receive the phone until a parent retrieves the seized device. Officials said that too many students were using phones at inappropriate times and that the possibility of students using the phones to cheat was too great.

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