According to a report by the Washington Post, a school district in Missouri has decided to reinstate its dormant policy on corporal punishment. This will permit teachers to discipline students with a paddle for the first time in over twenty years.
Merlyn Johnson, the superintendent of the Cassville School School District in Barry County, stated that when he accepted the position a year ago, he did not do so with the intention of reinstituting corporal punishment, which was a form of discipline that the district’s 1,900 students had abandoned in 2001.
“But it is something that has happened on my watch and I’m OK with it,” Johnson says.
Cassville is a very tiny town with a population of just under 4,000 people located around 60 miles southwest of Springfield and close to the Arkansas state line.
Parents have been advised recently of a policy that was passed in June by the school board to once again allow spanking in school – but only as a last option and with written permission from parents.
Johnson said that parents in Cassville, which he referred to as a “very traditional community in southwest Missouri,” had long voiced their unhappiness over the fact that the district does not permit the use of physical punishment.
“Parents have said ‘why can’t you paddle my student?’ and we’re like ‘We can’t paddle your student, our policy does not support that,'” he said. “There had been conversation with parents, and there had been requests from parents for us to look into it.”
According to Johnson, families in Cassville have responded differently from others who have posted on social media from other areas of the country.
“We’ve had people actually thank us for it,” he said. “Surprisingly, those on social media would probably be appalled to hear us say these things, but the majority of people that I’ve run into have been supportive.”
“We respect the decision of every parent, whatever decision they make.” He adds.
The judgment by the United States Supreme Court in 1977 that school corporal punishment was constitutional meant that the option to allow it was left up to the individual states.
One of the 19 states, the most of which are located in the South, that still allows the use of physical punishment is Missouri. Arkansas, Kansas, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Oklahoma are among of the neighboring states that have legalized the practice. The remaining states are Alabama, Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas, and Wyoming.
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