COLUMBUS — State Rep. Brian Williams, former superintendent of Akron public schools, calls paddling an "antiquated way of changing behavior" that should be abolished in schools.
Terry Leeth, raised in Tipp City and now assistant superintendent of Western Local Schools in Pike County, said residents of that district want to preserve paddling as a "last resort" punishment.
Williams and Leeth are on opposite sides of a debate reignited last week when Williams, D-Akron, and Rep. Jon Peterson, R-Delaware, introduced House Bill 406 to prohibit corporal punishment in schools. Gov. Ted Strickland is supportive and would sign such legislation, said his spokesman, Keith Dailey.
A law that took effect in 1994 discourages paddling. But in a concession to local control, it permits districts to use paddling by following procedures such as establishing a community task force and studying discipline in the district.
Last year, Pike County's Western Local Schools reported the highest number of paddlings at 99.
The style of punishment was used in just 17 of Ohio's 614 school districts, none in the Dayton area. Altogether, 270 students received 453 paddlings. Ohio is one of 21 states that permit corporal punishment.
Leeth said her district tried banning it but the community wanted it back.
Williams said research shows the punishment is counterproductive, does not change behavior and can cause children to become more aggressive.
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