97. SCHOOL C.P. and LEGAL TROUBLE: WHAT TO DO/NOT TO DO & 2 READER COMMENTARIES/TWP REPLIES

WE ARE NOT MAKING THIS UP; Just when you thought folks in less populated states out west were doing o.k. -There is this: The Helena, Montana school district is planning to teach kindergarten children about HOMOSEXUALITY! 🙄 Jenny and I (Renee) are NOT completely opposed to education on the “Facts of Life” but GET REAL!  Our Tommy and Tyler are DEFINITELY NOT going anywhere near Helena for kindergarten!

WE ARE NOT MAKING THIS UP #2: I (Renee) thought this was a joke when I first heard about it. On a t.v. game show, NONE of the three young adult contestants could identify the late former U.S. President Ronald Reagan in a photograph. Hey, we at TWP are young too -But come on!

Hello Dear Readers: As we make our way through the month of July, we definitely enjoy this time off from teaching. We all celebrated July 4th with our own families. I (Renee), along with  John and Tyler spent Independence Day out on the lake on the motor boat we rented for the weekend -Which would not be complete without BBQ Ribs, Watermellon and,of course, fireworks courtesy of the local Kiwanis Club. My boy Tyler LOVED spending a night on the boat and would like to make that arrangement PERMANENT! No such luck, though. All of us at TWP are taking our summer one-night-a-week graduate classes and…No speeding tickets YET! But hey, we are NOT lead foots! (Giggle)

SCHOOL C.P. and LEGAL TROUBLE:

WHAT TO DO/NOT TO DO

Dear Readers: This segment is NOT intended as legal advice. In ANY situation in which a legal question arises, ALL educators should follow school board policy AND the legal opinions of the school board attorney. The intent of this segment is to give the educator some tips on what and what not to do if the worst fear of an educator comes true.

An ARREST.

This will probably happen 1 out of 100,000 times in which ALL policies were followed and the “arrest” is unjustified. We at TWP are NOT writing this for the following reasons:

1) Not Following Policies/Guidelines: Doing this is just plain STUPID and any educator who messes up like this deserves everything he/she gets.

2) Teachers in NON School C.P. States: This goes without saying. If your state bans school c.p. -THEN DON’T DO IT!

3) Improper Teacher-Student Relationship: Duh! In this case, you -the teacher- broke the law and will get NO advice from us!

Now that we have set the parameters of what this segment is NOT about, all you need to do is follow the guidelines below.

Background

As an experienced teacher in an elementary school in a state with legal school c.p., you did what teachers hate to do the most: Give a merited 3 swat paddling to  one of your students. The student named Jack pushed and shoved another student during a.m. recess. Jack had already been warned repeatedly about rough-play and was paddled according to all school policies: Paddling in private, a witness and light-moderate severity. (Jack was kept out of afternoon recess despite his protests) Jack displayed NO ill effects from paddling. You, the teacher, would have forgotten about it had another teacher not reminded you to turn in the Discipline Report to the office on your way out after signing out for the day.

The next day, Jack is absent from school and you mark him as such in your record book.You roll your eyes thinking,”Hyper-protective mom is probably declaring her little ‘super-brat’ a ‘child abuse victim’…Thank goodness for state shield laws!”

An hour later, the unexpected.

As you are finishing the math lesson, the intercom calls you to the office. As you start to leave, a substitute teacher walks in to take over -For the day!

You walk into the office and the secretary looks like she had just been robbed. Your boss, the no-nonsense in-charge principal, seems like a kid just caught with his hand in the cookie jar.

THE BAD NEWS: You are being charged with Assault and Battery. The District Attorney has requested that you turn yourself in at the County Municipal Police Headquarters right away. Your “frady cat” principal gives you a “thatta girl” thumbs up in support as you head out to your car.

What has just happened HAS happened to REAL EDUCATORS in REAL LIFE. It occurs very rarely and 99.9% of educators will never have to worry about this scenario. But it does happen.

I. Booking/Processing.

When you do show up at the Police Headquarters, keep calm and follow directions from police personnel. In booking and processing, you will first be fingerprinted and photographed. Anyone who is under arrest in the justice system will go through this process -So KEEP CALM!

Shortly afterward, you will be taken to a room where Police Investigators will question you after reading you your right to remain silent. (Miranda Rights) If you wish at this point, you may request an attorney to be present. We recommend that you do so.

IMPORTANT: Beyond this point, anything you say can and will be used AGAINST you so DO NOT answer ANY questions posed to you -Regardless of how panicky you may feel. Remember, those investigators are PROFESSIONALS and in your present state of mind, you may be prone to confess to anything -Including something you did NOT do.

II. Questioning.

As stated above, do NOT answer ANY questions posed to you. But that does not mean you must totally clam up. This segment was written to guide you from this point forward.

Step 1: When asked if you wish to say anything, Just ask, “May I please see the Discipline Report from yesterday concerning Jack.” The investigators will probably need to have the report faxed over from the school office. If and when they hand you the copy, consider it your “Get Out of Jail Free” card because if it was completely filled out correctly, then you will be exonerated. (And if you didn’t fill one out or did so incorrectly, you DESERVE to be charged -With STUPIDITY!)

Note: If they have the original report, DO NOT LET IT LEAVE THE ROOM! This document may “disappear” otherwise so stay put until your attorney  is present and do not let that report out of your sight!

Step 2: If the Discipline Report is a faxed copy, ask to look it over and check to see if it has been altered. Once you are finished, make a tiny check mark in a corner of the report. The investigators will see that, of course, and will know that you are serious.

Step 3: Now that you have checked the accuracy of the report, simply state,”I have nothing to say…this will do my ‘talking’…for now.”

If the investigators cannot or will not produce the Discipline Report, say nothing else and wait for your attorney.

III. Investigators and the Criminal Complaint.

The investigators may show you the Criminal Complaint Report. If offered, do examine it -After you have checked the Discipline Report FIRST. And if no copy of Discipline Report is given on your request, simply decline to look at anything until you see your attorney.

There is only one reason you want to see the Criminal Complaint Report: To see the photo evidence of the assault/battery charge AND when the picture was taken.

IV. Examining the Evidence.

Without saying a word, look for the picture evidence of the complaint against you. If there is NO picture or the pictures are witheld from you, say nothing and wait to see your attorney because the “complaint” is most likely BOGUS. If there is a picture -Keep your composure when you first examine it.

The picture is probably from a medical specialist. If so, that is GREAT news. Why? Because the photo is from an independent source. If it comes from the parents, it CANNOT be firmly established WHEN the photo was taken in contrast to a third party photo. If the photo only shows a bit of pink discoloration to the buttocks, you are almost home-free because, regardless of the parents school c.p. views, no assault/ battery took place. But, if the photo shows deep bruising and/or blistering and/or welting-The next thing to look for is critical.

In the case of photos that show serious injury, look for something that indicates when the photo was taken. All of this segment has been written with the understanding that the paddle used was a small light Paddleball paddle and not an inappropriate “monster” paddle. (If the latter is the case -You deserve to be in trouble!) In our scenario, the paddling took place around 10:00 a.m. If Jack was picked up from school by his mom at 3:00 p.m. AND the photo was taken several hours later (Around 7:00 p.m.), then SOMEBODY has some explaining to do.

Like the District Attorney who might be running behind in the polls for that state senate seat he has always coveted. Like the so-called investigators who are so clueless that they forgot to construct a valid timeline for their shoddy “investigation”. And most of all, the parent(s) who need to explain EVERYTHING that occurred between 3:00 and 7:00 p.m.

V. Turning the Tables.

In this scenario, you now hold the “cards” because you KNOW the truth, you followed ALL school policies and you KNOW the injuries in the photo were NOT caused by the paddling you gave.

Now you issue your statement to the investigators, if you wish.

Simply state: “As a professional educator, state law REQUIRES me to notify legal authorities whenever I suspect child abuse has occurred.” Then explain your timeline reasoning and that you suspect Jack was abused at home. This may not immediately end the case against you but the spotlight will be shifted in another direction -At least until you can speak to your attorney.

VI. Conclusions.

The investigators may already suspect a parent in this scenario -But so what? If you are treated as a suspect at the start, then do not ditch your adversarial stance. Remember, it was YOU who was pulled out of your job as a classroom teacher because of a BOGUS charge and it will be up to you to see this through. No smiling with the District Attorney and his investigator-lackeys. Make it CLEAR as day that you feel violated and will not “make nice”. You have been pushed and WILL push back-All the way to the real guilty party being exposed, tried and CONVICTED for child abuse, giving false statements to police and filing false charges.

This will be a hard row to hoe but you WILL prevail AND be a better person for having gone through this “trial of life”.

And perhaps (In this scenario), future would-be-abusers will think twice about trying to destroy a teacher’s career and life by a BOGUS assault/battery charge after the legal use of school c.p.

 

2 READER COMMENTARIES/TWP REPLIES

Dear Readers: Every once in a while, we at TWP receive some insightful comments by readers of this blog. In this segment, we have a “double treat” for readers with two comments below: One from Raymond B., a newbie, and one from Prof. N., a U.K. reader who has commented in other TWP posts. While we did some editing for length, the comments below are 100% from the authors.

 

My name is Ray, I’m 53, an electrical engineer in Southern California, and recently found your blog.  I’d like to give you a round of applause for having this blog to honestly discuss the issue.  Reading the entries of Renee and Michelle has permitted me to relive some of my childhood days.

I grew up in the Cleveland area and was subject to a public school progressive discipline policy there that included corporal punishment from first grade (1963) through high school graduation in 1975.  At the time, I thought Northeastern Ohio was the Mecca of school corporal punishment (c.p.), only later learning that it is much more common in the Southeastern states.  In my school system, any credentialed employee could paddle a student. At the first day of every class, each teacher would review their list of  “pet peeves,” which would result in discipline, including paddling.  Throwing anything in class guaranteed a paddling.  All the teachers that I remember either kept their paddle on a wall easily viewed by the class, kept it in their desk, or placed it on the chalkboard.  Some teachers did not paddle students, preferring to send them to the principal’s office with a note.

The c.p. policy evolved over time in my school system.  In the mid-1960s the elementary school teachers simply commanded the offending student to present over the edge of the teacher’s desk, or bend over and grasp their ankles in front of the class, for three to five swats on the clothed bottom with their favorite paddle.

In elementary school, us kids were well aware of the paddle, but we saw it used rather infrequently, perhaps once every week or two.  As I transitioned to middle school in the late 1960’s, the age of the students went up, and so did the use of the paddle.  The paddle’s size increased, too.  In elementary school, the paddleball paddle was used, or a paddle about 3’’ x 16” x 1/4” or 3/8” thick or so was used.  The student was usually permitted to sign it after being swatted.  Only one or two teachers had a paddle with holes.

In middle school and high school, just about every teacher used a paddle, which had grown to about 24” x 3” x 1/2” thick.  Most had holes.  By this time, a new requirement was added for a credentialed witness to be present when c.p. was administered.  There never was rule that it be administered in private, nor was there any way to opt out, except possibly detention for a day or two at the whim of a teacher, but this was pretty rare.  The students knew the rules, and expected c.p. if the rules were violated.

The teachers routinely used the paddle to teach a discipline lesson, mostly with the full intent to have each swat sting and burn.  Whether given in front of the class, in a hallway, or in the principal’s office, the three to five swats were given full-force, with the sting of each one permitted to ripen to full effect before the next swat was given.  When administered in a hallway, each swat sounded like a rifle shot.

I felt at the time and still believe that my best teachers were “paddlers.”  They were dedicated to their profession, had control of their classes, had assertive-directing personalities and were fair graders.  Who could ask for more?

-Ray B.

Well, this commentary should dispel the notion that school c.p. reduces I.Q. We at TWP sometimes wonder “Where do the antis think the engineers, scientists and business leaders who built 20th century America came from?” Ray, I think you may have answered that question!

 

 

Prof. N. to “Rev.”

Normally I would have no problem in responding directly to your email if you were indicating you wanted a serious  academic debate .My name is no state secret. However throw away   comments such as  ‘ lies and half truths’  indicated to me that, regrettably  you appeared to  wish to follow ‘playground rules’, and  not adult rules of engagement. Perhaps  preferring  a quick dust up in the locker room , to a civilized discussion of differences of opinion.

Another sign that said this to me, is the use of tasteless comparisons between the ladies of teacherswhopaddle  with the Nazis , which does little but devalue history and offend those who suffered real persecution . To me that doesn’t encourage mature debate but reduces it to a distasteful farce ( and I say that, admittedly,  as someone whose  family lost a  member to Gestapo torture  in WWII) After all, our respective armed forces  willingly took risks which cost many of them their lives, so we could live in a free society where you can enjoy your first amendment rights on this blog   today . .

Does the “Hitler” comparison with Wendy Michelle etc., really  send a message that you want a serious debate ?Does it make you look part of a a responsible pressure group setting a good example to out children? You may think so : I’m afraid I beg to differ.

As to the Superintendent, well,In my experience those sort of hearsay allegations- without proof , evidence or reference are not taken as adequate to mount an investigation. Particularly when they are flatly contradicted by the school / school board,  and NO parents speak out. Were all the parents of these girls plain stupid?.If they let their daughters put on their  prom dresses specially for a paddling they certainly would be!  That, and the ‘Spoof’ article, which appears to be the earliest source for that particular ‘fact’,  are  why I queried whether you had  any concrete  evidence in the first place. All I want is fair play.

I’ll happily answer your question, when you  demonstrate  you intend to stop these childish attacks on your opponents, and have a   rational debate., although, as I said at the start , its not my fight. I don’t have a right to tell you how to run your State, and wouldn’t presume to do so .

To me education works best when local people decide on their local priorities  in the democratic way .Big government and centralized control of education just doesn’t work.Its too remote ; its about parents , teachers and students : aspirations ethics and desires. In short  community values , transparency and localism, not parties and politicians.

But , as I say , I’m just  an interested observer from afar..

-Prof. N.

As usual, you are spot on. Too bad the antis are so jaded that their venom actually backfires in their faces. But zealots have never been known for wisdom and oftentimes do things that lead to their own downfall. All what we at TWP will do is to just tell the real story about schools, education, learning and life.

COMING ON 07-31-2010:

A TWP “INSERVICE”

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