Did you intend it to hurt???

This week the Daily Dawg has been focused on SB 712, the new law prohibiting the use of “aversive techniques.”  The statute prohibits the use of techniques designed to influence student behavior by intentionally inflicting significant physical or emotional pain or discomfort.  The statute specifically exempts corporal punishment from that definition.

That caused me to remember a school board meeting I attended over 30 years ago, when a parent filed a complaint that a teacher had paddled the parent’s child.  The complaint went to the school board. The teacher, knowing that the community was strongly on her side, asked for an open meeting.  I was there to advise the board. 

 A couple of things became clear very quickly.  First, the teacher had been paddling students in this school district since the Great Depression.  Second, she was much respected and revered. Third, the parent was a newcomer to the district who apparently did not know that he was now in the Confederacy.

The parent was well represented by an able attorney, but he didn’t have much to work with. As I recall, the cross examination of the teacher went kinda like this:

LAWYER:  And did you paddle the boy?


LAWYER: When you paddled him, did you intend it to hurt?

She seemed a little confused by the question and hesitated for a moment. In that moment, what I observed was that a majority of the board members were nodding their heads, remembering how much it hurt when she paddled them.

TEACHER: Yes, I intended it to hurt!! 

I had the privilege of going into closed session with the board, which did not last long.  But what I learned behind closed doors confirmed my guess: a quorum of the board members had been paddled by this teacher and considered themselves better for the experience.  Parent complaint: DENIED.

We’re going to take a two week break from the Daily Dawg, folks. We’ll be back on July 15.  Until then.....carry on.