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BOTD 07-11-2015 On The List - A DMK Production

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Bransom Postmaster
A DMK Production

You are the principal of the local middle school.  These are four eleven year old fifth graders who attend your school from earlier today. The boys are inseparable best friends.

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(Picture Courtesy of Jack)

The boys are all in Mr. Katz's homeroom/first period class.  After that then all four have music class.  Mr. Katz dismissed his students to their next period and went for a break since he has second period free.  The four boys did not want to go to music class.  They saw their opportunity when they found out the librarian was out and that the library was being watched by a staffer from the front office.  The boys skipped music and told the person watching the library that they were supposed to be there that period to do some research on a group project.  Their story was accepted and so the four took a seat at a table in the back of the library.

The boys sat quietly and looked at books and whispered among themselves. Yes, Mitul had some drink pouches in his locker that he shared and drinks aren't technically allowed in the library but the boys were causing no real problems.

Near the end of second period Mr. Katz needed to check on something in the library and caught the boys skipping red handed. He escorted the four friends back to his empty classroom and all four admitted to skipping.  The boys were given the choice between two licks or a Saturday detention period.  They all elected to take two licks.  Mr. Katz called Mr. Wells in as a witness and each boy was paddled.  It was essentially an uneventful paddling session and the matter was considered closed as far as Mr. Katz was concerned.

EXCEPT . . .

As required by policy, Mr. Katz reported the corporal punishment to your office.  You note a problem - Tyler Morris is one of the students on the list who does not have parental permission for corporal punishment.  (Mr. Katz made a critical error and did not consult the list - Tyler should have been given a Saturday detention. Technically, as witness, Mr. Wells should have verified the list too.)

You bring Tyler to your office to discuss it.  You apologize and tell Tyler you will need to let his parents know and that you will be opening an investigation.  Tyler looks panicked and says he would like to consider it closed.

He explains, "Look, OK, maybe I wasn't supposed to get licks and, yeah, my Dad will be mad about that but he will also be really pissed at me and he will spank me for getting in trouble at school; it is a rule in our house.  I knew I wasn't supposed to get paddled but I really didn't want Dad knowing I was in trouble; I also didn't want to have to wait on my punishment.  Besides I did screw up and two licks seemed reasonable and I knew it would be over quick.  Anyways, besides all of that I didn't want the other guys to think I was a wimp."

You tell Tyler that you really must notify his parents.  

Tyler is almost in tears and begs you to leave it alone.  "I really don't want my parents knowing about this any more than you or Mr. Katz do.  Let's let it drop; I screwed up, I got punished, matter closed. Anyway, Mr. Katz is cool and I don't think he should get in trouble because I screwed up."

Mr. Katz and Mr. Wells are both excellent teachers who are respected by their students and fellow faculty.  They run well managed classrooms and their students have high test scores.  This was clearly simply just a lapse in judgement.

Do you do as Tyler asks and let it drop?

Can you dig it?


Question: Do you do as Tyler asks and let it drop?

Answer: Of coarse! What is done is done and can't be undone! But I will ask Tyler to put his request in writing.



Editor Extraordinaire
If this is Texas, then parental permission is a school district policy rather than a legal requirement. As principal, I can counsel Mr. Katz and Mr. Wells to be more careful without it causing them any extra grief. The problem, though, is that if I don't notify the parents per policy, then I expose everyone involved to more trouble. As rough as it is on Tyler, I really do have to inform his parents. Perhaps it is possible to make sure I get hold of his mother, who might be content to consider the matter closed with her notification.

I really do feel bad for Tyler. In my opinion, if a school does use corporal punishment, it should be a fairly mild and routine punishment -- not one that requires tons of paperwork and exposes kids to double punishment. I understand the need for due process, but that need not be complicated. When I was in school, we all understood that we could appeal to the administration. We also understood that no school personnel would physically force us to take licks if we refused. If a kid felt he was treated unfairly, he knew he could demand his parents be called. Most of the time, the last thing any of us wanted was for our parents to be called.



It seems Tyler's parents aren't against spanking as such but just against him being paddled at school. Puts the kid in a difficult position when his three best friends can be paddled.

Messrs K&W have screwed up and there must be a temptation to all involved to sweep it under the carpet aided by something in writing from Tyler. On the other hand confession may be the better bet.

Basically having an opt in or opt out policy for paddling is a bad policy.


As Kat says, in a Texas school, where it's a district policy, I think I would expect a kid to tell me if he wasn't supposed to get swats. If our district policy is to check the list before paddling, then I'll put a notice of verbal counseling in the files of the teachers involved. Honestly though, I think the boys in question are old enough to know their own situation. If I were a doctor, and I told someone to take aspirin, I'd expect them to tell me if they were allergic.

I feel like I have to follow a policy that's in print. However, as principal, if I do have any leeway, then I feel I should use it. If I don't contact Tyler's parents, I will let him know that his parents are in charge of him while he's a minor, we have to respect their wishes, and if this happens again, I will contact them, no matter what.

Ivor wrote:Basically having an opt in or opt out policy for paddling is a bad policy.

I can't remember where it is now, but there is a school district in Texas who's policy on paddling is 'we use it, it's not fair to let some opt out, so deal with it or move'.

Okay, I paraphrased a bit.

"In the end, it's just a story. But if you ask me, it's all true."


If Jack reckons the boys should speak up then Tyler perhaps deserves to be in trouble with his Dad. I think the problem is this getting back to the parents. Not sure if Tyler will show marks after 2 licks if his parents did catch sight of his backside. Subject to what the Principal advises I think the parents might have to be told. The question of Tyler getting more at home surely only applies because Tyler has not been spanked at school I hope

David M. Katz

Hopefully I can do this legally without making a big deal of it and without exposing Tyler to double jeopardy.  If so then I will call in each of the involved faculty and review the problem and place a note of verbal warning in their respective files.  Hopefully that is all that is needed.

I truly do see Tyler's point here.

It sounds like ANY trouble at school earns him a spanking from Dad and so the Saturday detention would have had the same result.  If I do have to notify the parents then maybe I can put in a good word for Tyler.

I must follow whatever rules and policy are in place for me and if that requires parental notice then so be it.  These things have a way of coming back on you.  Kids talk, teachers talk.  What if Mitul tells his mom who then sees Tyler's mom at Walmart and she asks how Tyler is doing after the paddling?  

Good luck, Tyler.

At least the four friends got to be heroes for a day.

Cleverly disguised as a responsible adult.

David M. Katz

squarecutter wrote: Not sure if Tyler will show marks after 2 licks if his parents did catch sight of his backside.

Very doubtful. If the licks were, as they should have been, just stingy enough to send a message, then any effects except maybe some slight pinkness should be long gone by the time the boys get home, especially since the paddlings were given in the morning.

If an 11 year old is marked up after only two licks that were given that morning then I do have a problem with Katz.

Cleverly disguised as a responsible adult.

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