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Paddling to be allowed at Georgia school to punish some students

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Parents must consent to paddling of their children and will be notified before it happens

A third of the 100 parents who returned their consent forms agreed to this form of punishment

CNN —  

To begin the new school year, a Georgia public charter school sent consent forms home to parents informing them of a new corporal punishment policy, CNN affiliate WRDW reported Friday. The superintendent of the Georgia School for Innovation and the Classics says a third of the 100 “consent to paddle forms” that have been returned have granted permission to the school.

“A parent can either give consent for us to use that as a disciplinary measure or they can deny consent,” Jody Boulineau, superintendent of the Hephzibah, Georgia-based school, told WRDW. “There’s no obligation. It’s not required.”

He added that the school received an uneven response from parents. “I’ve heard, ‘Great, it’s about time. We’re so glad that this is happening again, they should’ve never taken it out of schools.’ All the way to ‘Oh my goodness I can’t believe you are doing that’,” said Boulineau.

Georgia School for Innovation and the Classics, which first opened its door to students three years ago, serves kindergarten through sixth-grade students, though it plans to expand into the upper grades over time. All Georgia resident students are eligible to attend and 694 students were enrolled as of the state’s most recent enrollment count in March 2018.

’Serious, repetitive offenses’

The new policy was approved by the board of directors in June, according to Julie Hawkins, principal of Georgia School for Innovation and the Classics.

“It is a choice made by the parent as one option among many in the discipline policy, and is reserved for serious, repetitive offenses,” said Hawkins, who emphasized, “Again, the decision would be made by the parent.”

The form records a parent’s consent allowing administrators to hit their children with a wooden paddle and reads: “A student will be taken into an office behind closed doors. The student will place their hands on their knees or piece of furniture and will be struck on the buttocks with a paddle.” No more than three licks should be given the fully clothed child, according to the form.

Though parents may agree to the paddling of their children, they will be contacted before it happens. The school will use a “three strike policy” so the paddling doesn’t happen on the first or second offense, according to the new guidelines put forth by the school.

The reason for the change in policy is not a matter of school-wide discipline problems, Hawkins said in an email. “The ability to control the students is not a factor in our school,” she said. “We have an average of 20 students per class, and we have very high expectations for behavior. We work with the students and parents to maintain a learning environment with very few disruptions.”

Thirty-one states plus the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico have abolished corporal punishment in public schools, according to World Corporal Punishment Research, an independent, nonprofit website. This form of disciplining students is still permitted in 19 states: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Wyoming. Exact laws vary from state to state, though in most places where corporal punishmen