78. A TWP SPECIAL: CHILD ABUSER/TEACHERS, CLOSE ENCOUNTERS III, PRINCIPAL’S OFFICE: JANUARY & R.C. pt. XVIII

A TWP SPECIAL:

CHILD ABUSER/TEACHERS

This segment is a disturbing one in which educators, in our opinion, have crossed the line from the proper use of school c.p. to what we can only term CHILD ABUSE. We received word of the following incidences from readers and the stories below are from reliable and independent sources.

When does school c.p. become CHILD ABUSE?

This is a fair question and should be answered HONESTLY. The anti c.p. crazies consider ALL c.p. whether in the home or at school, to be child abuse. But we at TWP believe that position to be extreme and you cannot win any debate on any issue by screaming and shouting down other people. In this section, we first set the parameters of what is not child abuse and then, what is child abuse. One caveat though is this: An abusive paddling is not, in itself, a case of child abuse.

What child abuse isn’t:

Bruising From Paddling: We know this will raise eyebrows (and blood pressure too!) but hear us out. The key is INTENT and we truly feel that 99% of paddlings that cause any bruising is UNINTENTIONAL. The paddling that does leave bruises CAN be called an ABUSIVE paddling but the educator’s intent was non-abusive. Even then, educators have had careers destroyed because of one unintended blemish on a child. (See post MISSION STATEMENT)

EDUCATOR MISTAKE: We have dealt with this with both Wendy and Alexis. This is the worst nightmare of any educator and can also wreck a career. On this, we set the bar high: You must be 100% right 100% of the time. Problem is that we are ALL human. A “mistake” does not rise to the level of child abuse even if the result is a paddling of an innocent person. That could be considered an abusive outcome but the educator is not a child abuser.

MISPLACED PAPERWORK: This was reported to have happened in our post SCHOOL STUPIDITY and we did say that the principal should have been fired for that. But the teacher was “in the dark” as to the parental request and therefore, cannot be labeled a child abuser. However, the situation could be called an abusive paddling.

What is CHILD ABUSE -In a school setting?

INTENT: This should not be interpreted as “Intent to cause short term pain or discomfort” because that is what a paddling does when carried out according to any school policy guideline. It is what it is. But in the case of child abuse, the policy parameters are willfully and knowingly violated. And anger or “losing it” which leads to a case of child abuse is NO defense. As educators, we are authority figures in charge of children -The bar is rightfully set high on us. (As to the two Wendy episodes: Both paddlings were hard but neither resulted in any bruising)

KNOWLEDGE: When you do something you know is wrong or should know, then you have crossed the line. Even if something is not specifically prohibited or spelled out, that must NEVER be used as a loophole. Once more, all educators must set the bar high, not low. Common sense should be used with knowledge of school policy and ALWAYS when school c.p. is considered.

MALICE/FORETHOUGHT: Along with INTENT, this goes to the heart of child abuse which crosses the line from merely an abusive paddling. In this case, the educator knows what they are doing is abusive (or should know) and does so anyway out of anger, rage or a desire to injure beyond what any sensible school c.p. policy would allow. The only FORETHOUGHT that is permissible by the high bar standard is the goal of using short term pain to eliminate a bad behavior. When MALICE/FORETHOUGHT enters the equation, paddling becomes only about the educator’s desire to inflict pain which, in turn, leads to the outcome of child abuse, not just an abusive paddling.

CASE I:

LAFAYETTE, Tenn. — A kindergarten teacher in Macon County has been suspended for a week after her bosses said she paddled a girl so hard it left bruises.Micky Biggers said he has never had a problem with his 5-year-old daughter, Courtney, being spanked at school if she is acting up, but feels what happened to her was far beyond corporal punishment. “There were bruises on her butt. What did they do to her?” asked Biggers. Courtney is in kindergarten at Fairlane Elementary in Lafayette. School officials said last Thursday the child was misbehaving and making barking noises in the cafeteria. The child’s teacher, Teresa Gregory, paddled her, but minutes later another teacher reportedly overheard Courtney tell her classmate the first spanking didn’t even hurt. Gregory then paddled her again, this time so hard that bruises were left on the girl’s bottom.Her father took cell phone photos to prove the child’s injuries. “Common sense would tell you if somebody says it doesn’t hurt, you don’t continue to whoop them until it does,” said Biggers. Macon County Director of Schools Darrel Law admits the teacher used poor judgment and may have acted out of anger. He said the girl should not have been paddled a second time. “The bruises initiated because of the second paddling, and she didn’t have any intention to bruise a child at all,” said Law. Gregory has been suspended for five days without pay, but Biggers said that is a slap on the wrist.

TWP’S VERDICT: The most disturbing thing about this case is that Teresa Gregory is STILL employed as a teacher! It is our position that Teresa, despite her claims otherwise, intentionally set out to injure the child, had knowledge (or should have known) that what she was doing would lead to injury and did so with malice/forethought. And if that is not the case, Teresa should be terminated as a teacher on grounds of stupidity. The child abuse happened under the principalship of Linda Smith and because Linda did NOT remove Teresa permanently from her teaching job, she is no better. TWP considers Linda Smith an accessory to child abuse for not taking stronger action than just suspending Teresa for 5 days.

Linda Smith (Principal)  Teresa Gregory (Teacher)

smithl55@k12tn.net

Fairlane Elementary, 305 Fairlane Dr., Lafayette, TN 37083

615-666-2970

We encourage all of our readers to voice your displeasure by contacting the school above which is in the Macon County School District in Tennessee. (Editor’s Note: Do NOT send or give vulgar or threatening messages because the former will avail NOTHING and the latter is ILLEGAL.}

CASE 2:

The mother of a 9 year old student has filed complaints regarding her child’s severe bruising after three spankings received during one day at school. Last Friday, the child, who attends Potter Street Elementary School, was sent to the office 3 times due to disciplinary problems. Each of the 3 times the assistant principal issued a spanking, which we believe to be 2 hits each.  We believe there was also a disciplinary spanking of 2 hits on Thursday afternoon. The child came home Friday complaining that his bottom hurt.  On Sunday evening, he was still complaining about the pain and the child was taken to the emergency room.  About midnight on Sunday, the mother filed a report on the incident with Bainbridge Public Safety. The school system does administer corporal punishment, but only after a parent gives permission.  For this child, there have been several conferences with parents and there was a behavioral plan in place. School Superintendent Ralph Jones told us the situation is under investigation, saying they have spent over a full day interviewing those involved and any witnesses.  As of Thursday afternoon, there were still several persons to interview.  Superintendent Jones and Human Resources Director Dr Linda Lumpkin are handling the investigation.

TWP’S VERDICT: Having spent a large part of my life in Georgia, I (Renee) am very distressed about this story. The assistant principal, Mrs. Jeanette Grimsley, was the three time paddler of the child. I (Renee) do NOT know her but I do know where Bainbridge, Georgia is. Like in case #1, this case has the same child abuse pattern of INTENT, KNOWLEDGE and MALICE/FORETHOUGHT. And if that is not the case, Mrs. Grimsley is just plain STUPID and should be removed from the teaching profession completely. Below is the contact info but as stated above: No vulgarity or threats.

Mrs. Jeanette Grimsley (Assistant Principal)

jgrimsley@dcboe.com

229-248-2253

Decatur County, Bainbridge,Georgia,

No address for Potter Street Elementary School found

IMPORTANT: The opinions given above are TWP’s and should NOT be considered as legal opinions.

CLOSE ENCOUNTERS III

On a lighter note, we caught some HELL for last week’s segment of  ENCOUNTERS and I (Renee) wonder what I did wrong? Go to a swimming pool? Give me a break!

Both last week’s as well as this week’s segments of ENCOUNTERS  is totally innocent and rather cute when you think about it. In both cases, Michelle and I made the boo boo of going to a swimming pool where our students from the prior year also went. They sure didn’t mind seeing us but in both cases, we were the ones “uncomfortable”.

As for Michelle’s episode below, it is my fault because I forgot to warn her like I did Jenny and Wendy. I’m sooo sorry, Michelle…

Michelle: Relax, Renee -It was just an oversight on your part, no harm done.

Like Renee, I too was hired with only a week or so before school was to start and moved in the same small apartment complex that Renee lived in her first year in teaching. It is only a couple of miles from the community pool and of course I used it those last days before school started. Like Renee, no kid took notice of me because I hadn’t started my teaching career yet.

Boy, that wasn’t the case a week after school ended in late May the next year. I had a great (for the most part) first year with all my “kids” making grade and my receiving the county’s “Rookie Teacher of the Year Award”. All in all, I felt great about my first year in teaching. And my former students? They all adored me and I think they would have voted to make me their 5th grade teacher if they could have.

Well, yours truly, the ex Alabama cheerleader strolled into the pool area not expecting any kind of undue attention but that changed FAST! First, a couple of whistles and then hoots. I’ve experienced that before so it was no big deal to me. But when nearly every elementary school aged kid comes over to where I started to lay out WAS startling to me -To say the least. Like I said, grownups eyeing me is nothing new but a bunch of kids, some of who I had just taught a week earlier, was a bit unnerving. I said a quick “Hi” and put the ear plugs of my ipod in my ears, closed my eyes and laid back into my lounge chair to do the only work I planned for that summer: Work on my sun tan.

Suffice to say, I did open my eyes some in order to reach for my frozen water bottle. And the kids? Good grief…they were hanging out around where I was! They tried to engage in small talk but thanks to the ipod, I didn’t answer them.

But the biggest stir was, like Renee, when I finally decided to cool off in the water. I chose to dive in by way of the rather high diving platform. As a kid growing up, I loved to dive and did so at that moment. After a pretty decent dive, when I came up at the pool ladder, I heard cheers and clapping all around the pool ladder. It was all my former students and I smiled and nodded while shushing them -I am not one who seeks out attention on myself.

One boy offered to “Help pull me up” which I declined. Another boy asked if I could show him how to dive “Like that!” The second boy was Ricky -Of all people! (This was the one boy I had paddled my first year of teaching) Grinning, Ricky said, “You remember me…and how much trouble I got into last year, don’t you, Miss ….?” I nodded and recalled that day…which I considered my worst day of the year. After that though, Ricky did become a sort of teacher’s pet although nearly every child in my class could be counted the same way.

Walking back to my lounge chair, I said, “Ricky dear, I hated what happened as much as you did…It hurts me to think about it…So please…Don’t bring it up…o.k.?”

“I’m sorry, Miss …. and I really like you!…You are a GREAT teacher!” replied Ricky.

“Ricky, that is so sweet of you! (Some laughs from a few other kids)…Now go join your friends and leave me be, o.k.?…I just want to be by myself for awhile…,” I implored.

I then lay on my front so my back could get some sun. Remembering that I hadn’t put on any lotion on my back, I tried to rub some on after unhitching the back strap of  my bikini top while laying on my stomach. Then the unplanned. Ricky, of all people, walked up and ask,”Need some help with the lotion?” That took me by such surprise, I nearly jumped up -Giving a “view” no child should ever have of their teacher.

“No Ricky, that would be inappropriate!” I snapped as I re-hitched my bikini top and started to prepare to leave the pool area with haste. Ricky pleaded that he was sorry and begged me to stay but I was firm. I told him as I left, “Ricky, I am NOT mad at you but I’m leaving and not coming back here!…You are a nice kid but you do NOT need to be fraternizing with your teacher, especially in this setting! …So good bye.”

I then headed out, not looking back. The next school year, Ricky was in Max’s 5th grade class but all he could talk about was me! I swear: I believe he told EVERYONE who cared to listen about my diving ability, my figure and who knows what else! I really think he would have repeated 4th grade if the school had let him. (HA HA)

But Ricky (and others) DID behave when I worked bus duty or cafeteria monitoring -And that is the most important thing!

PRINCIPAL’S OFFICE: JANUARY

This feature, which I (Renee) started last August as an insider’s view of what really goes on in the job of an assistant principal, is going to be a monthly feature for the rest of the school year. Why? Because my de-emphasis of c.p. at the middle school is WORKING! The coaches may have other opinions but so what? Therefore, with other issues being posted, I do not really believe the readers of TEACHERSWHOPADDLE are interested in detention lists and I.S.S. reports. And these two take most of my time when it comes to student dicipline matters.

But not always.

The week after students returned from Christmas break, Jerry and Dick were caught in the library pelting other students with rubber bands flipped by hand with another rubber band. (Think hand sling shot!) Recall last year that I put out the word that such action would result in SERIOUS CONSEQUENCES.

Well, the two  13 year olds were brought to my office by one of the coaches. I asked the two, “Do you not realize that if someone was struck in the eye, that might lead to a LOSS OF VISION…PERMANENTLY!” Dick whined, “We were careful, Mrs. …. and did not hit anyone in the f…”

I cut him off snapping, “I do not care how careful you were, you still are in for real trouble!”

“Good grief…A new year was supposed to be an improvement over last year…” I thought to myself.

Because of what I thought was the seriousness of the offense, I decided that paddle swats would be the consequence. So, I called their parents and explained the situation. Both moms agreed that a three swat paddling would be appropriate (Not all moms are anti c.p. loons and as a mom myself, I have a way of communicating with them that reassures them.)

However, because a male coach was available, he would do the honors with me as witness. You should have heard these two plead for me to do it. Word about the “Matt paddling” must have got around! No deal -But I reassured the two that a paddling given by Coach B would be no worse than I would give.

As Jerry bent over in the brace position against the wall, Coach B started to rear back like in a “home run derby”. I immediately grabbed the paddle and shook my head. Coach B detested this but I made it crystal clear: One handed paddle grip, other hand on student’s lower back with a 90 degree arc for the paddle swing -No ifs, ors, ands or buts about it!

The result: Two stinging rear ends for Jerry and Dick who will NOT being flinging rubber bands around any time soon.

And Coach B: I informed him that this school, if he didn’t get the message last August, is not some “frat house”.

 

RENEE CHRONICLES pt. XVIII

Driver Training & Patience

Ever wonder what ages parents the most? It varies from first sleepover slumber parties to first dates to…first time behind the wheel of a car. I think my dad would vote the teaching of his daughter (me) how to drive.

There was an old empty gravel parking lot that my three older brothers all first drove the family minivan for the first time. When I turned 15 and got my learner’s permit, it was MY turn. I can still remember two of my brothers with me and dad saying, “Please don’t get us all killed, sis!” My dear siblings had so much confidence in my driving ability!

Daddy was so patient with me despite my rough starts and stops. Of course my two passenger brothers complained, “We’re car sick…We’re car sick!” Daddy offered to let them watch me drive but they then responded, “No way…She’ll run us over!” (Hey, that empty old lot was at least 10 acres!)

Every Saturday for a month, I honed my driving skills until I was ready to drive the road. A little traveled country road for sure. These things take time and it is a step by step learning process.

Learning in general works the same way. As a teacher, I understood this and was always boosting the slower students with extra help when they needed it. The intrinsic reward of teaching is when you see a child who struggles to learn something finally grasp it. The feeling of having succeeded in getting a slower child up to speed is something only a teacher can understand.

And that is why I will ALWAYS be a teacher first -Even if I am an administrator in school rank.

 

COMING NEXT: A RETIRED TEACHER’S PERSPECTIVE,

CLOSE ENCOUNTERS IV,

R.C. pt. XIX

&

PROF. N. REPLIES/TWP RESPONDS

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