Tulsa School District Investigates Spanking Claim

Thursday, March 5th 2009, 9:21 pm
By: News On 6

By Ashli Sims, The News On 6

TULSA, OK -- Officials at Tulsa Public Schools are sending home notes to parents saying they are investigating accusations of corporal punishment.

TPS suspended three employees at Hawthorne Elementary over accusations that a young student was hit with a yardstick last week.

"We have an investigation undergoing, and we're going to make what we believe is the best decision in the best interest of the kids when we get all of the facts in," said Dr. Keith Ballard, TPS superintendent.

The incident has stirred up a debate over whether school employees should spank or paddle students.

The Center for Effective Discipline points to federal statistics showing that corporal punishment was used on more than 200,000 U.S. children in the 2006-2007 school year.

The group, which is against corporal punishment, ranks Oklahoma fourth in the number of students struck by educators.

Oklahoma law says the state Board of Education has no jurisdiction, but individual districts can choose to use corporal punishment.

Of local school districts, Tulsa and Jenks explicitly ban corporal punishment. Union, Sand Springs and Broken Arrow schools don't list it as an option, and school officials say they don't use it.

Owasso was the only district contacted by The News On 6 that reports listing corporal punishment as an option. Its assistant superintendent says it's on the books, but is rarely used.

The policy indicates there must be a witness, a report filed and typically they would get permission from parents.

The Oklahoma State Department of Education does not track corporal punishment, but the Center for Effective Discipline reports the practice was used on nearly 15,000 Oklahoma students during 2006-2007.

03/04/2009  Related Story: TPS Investigating Corporal Punishment Allegation