Sunday, February 18, 2001

Paddling still much in vogue in Ky. schools

But districts here frown on practice

By Charles Wolfe
The Associated Press

        FRANKFORT — Alternative forms of discipline abound, but an old-fashioned paddle is still “the board of education” in many Kentucky school districts.

        That is especially true in a broad area of eastern and southeastern Kentucky, where three “licks” is an accepted consequence of moderate misbehavior.

        “It has a lot to do with just the culture of the area,” said Jeff Saylor, principal of Bell County High School near Pineville. “Most parents in this area trust what's taking place in school. I just don't think it's seen as a vicious act.”

        A report by the Kentucky Center for School Safety showed that corporal punishment is predomi nantly, though not exclusively, employed in two regions that contain 47 school districts and cover roughly the southeastern quarter of the state.

        It was most common in elementary schools, which averaged up to 36 paddlings per 1,000 students in that area.

        The center found the rate of corporal punishment to be zero for every 1,000 students in Kenton, Campbell and Boone counties.

        “The culture is pretty well stimulated by churches in that region,” said state Rep. Charlie Siler, a Republican from Williamsburg. “"Spare the rod and spoil the child' is heavily ingrained in the constituents in my region.”

        Dr. Jim Boothe, chair of the Department of Education at Xavier University, said attitudes of school boards often reflect the attitudes of parents and other residents. In Northern Kentucky, he said, many parents oppose the use of physical force in discipline.

        “It's just not nearly as prevalent or a preferred way to deal with discipline,” he said.

        Attempts to ban corporal punishment have failed. Legislation has been offered but never passed in the General Assembly. More recently, the state school board tried to ban it but was blocked by the legislature.

        When asked, the Kentucky School Boards Association advises local boards to ban paddling, mainly to remove a reason for lawsuits, spokesman Brad Hughes said.

        Principal Alan Ahrman of Grants Lick Elementary in Alex andria said even if paddling were allowed at the school, the possibility of litigation would prevent him from using it.

        The Diocese of Covington's policy says corporal punishment is not permitted in its 32 elementary schools and nine high schools. It's a policy that shows sophistication, said Principal Harry Luebbers of SS Peter and Paul Elementary in California.

        “I am not in favor of (paddling) and I don't know of any of my teachers that are,” he said.

        The Enquirer's Patrick Stack contributed to this report.


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- Paddling still much in vogue in Ky. schools