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School records show paddling cases

Richmond County schoolchildren were paddled last year, but top school officials were unaware that corporal punishment is still practiced.

 

Four schools reported administering corporal punishment on nine occasions, according to The Augusta Chronicle's analysis of state discipline records. Schools self-report the incidents to the Georgia Department of Education as part of their annual discipline reports. But neither Superintendent Dana Bedden nor Executive Director James Thompson, who is responsible for discipline, is aware of any paddling last school year.

Both said they would look into the incidents.

Dr. Bedden said the reports of paddling could be simple mistakes by whoever entered the data, accidentally entering the number for corporal punishment rather than another discipline action.

However, two of the schools that reported paddling students in 2007-08 also reported paddling in 2006-07, The Chronicle found. Butler and Glenn Hills high schools administered corporal punishment in both years. Tubman and Glenn Hills middle schools also administered it last year.

Dr. Bedden said he finds it hard to believe that any of these schools actually paddled students.

The Richmond County Board of Education adopted a policy for corporal punishment in 1977 and revised it most recently in 1990. It outlines when and how corporal punishment is to be administered, requiring only authorized employees to administer it with a witness present. Permission first must be obtained from parents, and documentation must be kept stating the reason for the punishment and who was present.

Reach Greg Gelpi at (706) 828-3851 or greg.gelpi@augustachronicle.com.

CORPORAL PUNISHMENT INCIDENTS BY THE NUMBERS

The number of schoolchildren paddled in Richmond County increased last school year, Georgia Department of Education data show.

2006-07 INCIDENTS: 4

Butler High School: 2

Glenn Hills High School: 2

2007-08 INCIDENTS: 9

Butler High School: 1

Glenn Hills High School: 4

Glenn Hills Middle School: 3

Tubman Middle School 1

Here are the 10 Georgia schools with the most incidents of corporal punishment for the 2007-08 school year:

SCHOOL SCHOOL SYSTEM Incidents
1. Randolph Clay High School Randolph County 1,258
2. Elbert County High School Elbert County 776
3. Worth County Middle School Worth County 633
4. Calhoun County Middle High School Calhoun County 600
5. West Laurens Middle School Laurens County 569
6. Johnson County Middle School Johnson County 558
7. Fitzgerald High School Ben Hill County 552
8. Dodge County High School Dodge County 543
9. Toombs County High School Toombs County 520
10. Coffee Middle School Coffee County 482

Source: The Augusta Chronicle's analysis of Georgia Department of Education data