Parents file complaint over swats
By Donna Hales, Phoenix Staff Writer , The Muskogee Phoenix , November 14, 2006

OKLAHOMA - Muskogee police are investigating an alleged assault and battery complaint on a minor child by Whittier School Principal Ed Wallace.

Chief Rex Eskridge said Monday the investigation is not complete.

“He (11-year-old) couldn’t sit down because his bottom was so sore. The mom was just shocked,” said the boy’s attorney, Jim McClure.

Wallace told Superintendent Mike Garde he didn’t swat the child maliciously or with great force. There were two school employees who witnessed the spanking, which is a requirement of the school, Garde said.

McClure said the boy was battered at school.

“After the first paddling, the boy begged him (Wallace) to stop. He (Wallace) had him in a headlock, and he paddled him again,” McClure said. “His whole bottom was black and blue. The mother went to the principal, and he just kind of blew her off.

“She went to the superintendent’s office, and Derryl Venters (assistant superintendent, curriculum and instruction) told her an apology would be forthcoming, but they didn’t do anything,” McClure said.

Garde said Monday he was not aware of the incident. He talked with employees involved and opted to be the spokesman. He said the parents had signed a release for the child in question to receive corporal punishment. He also said Wallace had contacted the parents and suggested an in-school suspension because the child tends to move when spanked.

Garde said the parents were to talk to the child over a weekend and that on Nov. 1 the parents told Wallace the child would take his swats.

“He got two swats, and he moved on the second one, which may have caused it to hurt one cheek more than the other,” Garde said.

“We’re aware that the parents didn’t think Mr. Wallace was remorseful enough. He was sorry the boy had red marks on his bottom — that wasn’t his intent,” Garde said.

The parents gave McClure a signed statement Wallace gave the mother of the alleged victim on Nov. 2. Wallace wrote that he met with the boy’s mother on that morning and explained that he was careful while issuing the swats.

Wallace also wrote that he changed his corporal punishment approval form to indicate that “we would no longer issue swats as a form of discipline (to the child in question) until further notified by the parent.”

McClure said the mother took that letter with her when she took her son to the Emergency Room.

Police have a picture showing the child’s injuries.

Parents file complaint over swats

“If she hadn’t had that letter, I think they (hospital) would have reported her for child abuse,” McClure said.

McClure said he plans to put the school on notice of a formal complaint for compensation under the rules of a government tort claim. He said the parents waited in vain for the promised apology and further contact from the school, and that now it is too late.

The parents’ names have been withheld to protect the identity of the minor.

Reach Donna Hales at 918-684-2923 or Click Here to Send Email.


November 14, 2006

Muskogee Phoenix

Dear Editor:

Can somebody please explain why there are witnesses to school paddlings? I can understand why a witness is present during a gynecological examination or a sigmoidoscopy, but I cannot understand why a routine school procedure needs a witness -- and in the case of the Whittier School, two witnesses. Since no teachers college instructs undergraduates in the correct method for striking a pupil's pelvic area with a stick -- unlike the thoroughness with which physicians are trained -- what are the criteria, if any, that guide school paddling witnesses? Can anyone apply for the job?

Jordan Riak, Exec. Dir.
Parents and Teachers Against Violence in Education (PTAVE)


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