TEXAS DEPARTMENT OF PROTECTIVE AND REGULATORY SERVICES
James R. Hine
April 5, 2000
Jordan Riak, Executive Director
Parents and Teachers Against Violence in Education
P.O. Box 1033
Alamo CA 94507~7033
Dear Mr. Riak:
This is in response to your recent letter about a concern you received from a parent who had recently moved to Texas. Ms. M____ had strong negative feelings about her 17 year old child being paddled at school. You indicated that Ms. M____ needed practical advice on how to protect her child from violent abuse at school and volunteered to forward any advice we could give to her immediately.
As you suggested, we reviewed the information on your web site about this situation and the responses already provided by school, state and federal officials. These officials have provided quite a bit of information and guidance about Texas law related to school personnel paddling children and about school and state agency grievance procedures Ms. M____ could use to protest the paddling.
The Texas Department of Protective and Regulatory Services is the state agency charged by law to receive and investigate reports of child abuse and neglect. This includes situations when the alleged maltreatment was committed by school personnel or volunteers. The legal definition of abuse, found at Texas Family Code 261.001, includes the following:"Physical injury that results in substantial harm to the child, or the genuine threat of substantial harm from physical injury to the child, including an injury that is at variance with the history or explanation given and excluding an accident or reasonable discipline by a parent, guardian, or managing or possessory conservator that does not expose the child to a substantial risk of harm."
Ms. M____'5 letter said that the paddling caused the young woman to cry, her buttocks to still be bright red after several hours, an outline of the paddle to appear on her skin, and caused her to have difficulty in sitting down over the weekend. The paddling did not cause bruising. While it is very regrettable that the young woman suffered pain and minor harm from the paddling, the effects described do not, in our judgment, rise to arise to the level of abuse as defined by Texas law.
If a parent suspects that their child has been abused or neglected by school personnel or volunteers, Texas law requires the parent to report this. A parent may report abuse to local law enforcement or our statewide child abuse hotline. The number of the toll-free hotline is 1-800- 252-5400 for calls from Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas, Oklahoma and New Mexico.
If we can be of further help, please let us know.
James R. Hine
701 W. 51st St. -- P.O. Box 149030 -- Austin, Texas 78714-9030 -- (512) 438-4800