- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 25, 2022

Old is new again for a rural Missouri school district that reintroduced paddling for misbehaving students.

While the disciplinary measure requires parents to opt in, students who attend the Cassville School District can expect there to be a punishment beyond detention this school year, according to the Springfield News-Leader.

“The positive reinforcement, we love it. That works with a lot of kids,” Superintendent Merlyn Johnson told the News-Leader. “However, some kids play the game and their behaviors aren’t changing.”



Mr. Johnson told the outlet that the new policy was anecdotally pushed for by parents in Cassville, a small town of about 4,000 near the state’s southwestern border with Arkansas.

Returning to corporal punishment gained traction after an anonymous, third-party survey of teachers, parents and students characterized student behavior as an area of high concern.

The school district previously banned the act in 2001. But Missouri has allowed corporal punishment ever since the Supreme Court affirmed in 1977 that it was a state’s decision.


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Cassville School District approved the policy in June.

Paddling a student is a last resort, according to the policy language, and has to be recommended by the principal. The principal also must submit a detailed report to the superintendent about why a student will be paddled.
 
The only punishment allowed is “swatting the buttocks with a paddle.” The principal will carry out the paddling in front of one witness and no other students.

There was no hard number given for how many swings can be doled out, but Mr. Johnson told the News-Leader that it will likely be one to two for younger students and up to three for older students.

“We’ve had people actually thank us for it,” Mr. Johnson told the newspaper. “Surprisingly, those on social media would probably be appalled to hear us say these things but the majority of people that I’ve run into have been supportive.”

• Matt Delaney can be reached at mdelaney@washingtontimes.com.

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