Tangipahoa board discusses corporal punishment option

The Tangipahoa Parish School Board on Thursday approved a number of revisions to the school system’s policies, but a potential future policy change could mean a return to corporal punishment for errant students.

The board held a special meeting Thursday to approve reports from its policy and personnel committees, which met Tuesday and Thursday of this week.

The board approved a new credit recovery program to let students earn high school credit for courses they have failed in the past.

The board also voted to limit the length of suspensions for students to the remaining days in a school year. The original policy allowed for suspensions to carry over into the next year.

Board members may discuss, at a later date, the idea of reintroducing corporal punishment into the school system as a way to discipline out-of-line students.

Board member Gail Pittman-McDaniel requested in May to have the board’s policy committee reconsider its ban on corporal punishment. The policy was last revised in 2010.

Pittman-McDaniel said at the time that parents, teachers and principals have asked her why spanking is no longer allowed at the schools.

The committee discussed the corporal punishment idea Tuesday but took no action on the item, deciding it will ask school administrators and disciplinarians for more input on the issue, said Sandra Bailey-Simmons, a member of the committee.

Bailey-Simmons said she has received only one email about the issue and no calls.

Bailey-Simmons said spanking students was effective when she was a teacher in the 1970s, but she added that the school system eventually became embroiled in numerous lawsuits over abuse because of corporal punishment.

She said the school system needs to do something about discipline in the parish’s public schools, but she suggested that many parents are not disciplining their children at home.

“To me if parents want the school to do that, then I think the parent needs to take responsibility and spank their own child,” she said.

Board member Al Link, during Thursday’s board meeting, applauded the issue being discussed, saying the school system “really need(s) to get on top of this discipline situation.”

“Nobody seems to know what to do with these students,” he said.

Link did not say whether he approved of corporal punishment as a disciplinary method.

Other business Thursday included:

PERSONNEL MOVES: The board approved Gary Porter as the new principal at Amite Elementary School. Porter had been serving as assistant principal at Hammond High School and previously served as principal of St. Helena Central High School.

The board named Brandi Gonzales as the school system’s supervisor of child welfare and attendance. Gonzales worked in Lafayette Parish the last eight years as their school system’s child welfare supervisor, Superintendent Mark Kolwe said.