School board debates corporal punishment

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A couple of corporal punishment opponents drove hundreds of miles from the Nashville, Tennessee area to Jasper County on Tuesday night.

Julie Worley and Tom Johnson were the only ones to speak during the public input portion of the Jasper County Board of Education meeting. They told FOX 5 News they made the drive after seeing the video of Thomas Perez, 5, about to be paddled by school administrators for misbehaving.

"The reason I'm here today is to ask you to please ban corporal punishment of children entrusted to the schools for their care and education," said Julie Worley of Tennesseans Against Corporal Punishment.

Worley and Johnson both cited case studies they said show corporal punishment at schools is harmful to the healthy development of children. They told the board only 13 states including Georgia allow corporal punishment in schools.

The mother of the child on the video told FOX 5 News she agreed to have him paddled, because she believed she'd be taken to jail for truancy. She had been arrested previously when the kindergarten student missed 18 days of school.

No one spoke in support of corporal punishment at the school board meeting, however, the mother of a member of the Jasper County basketball team defended the district's corporal punishment policy.

"If they have to be corporally punished that's perfectly fine with me. I'm a hard working mom. If they choose to be disrespectful at school then I have to respect their choice," said Ms. Beasley.

The basketball team was recognized by the board for reaching the semifinals in their division. Other parents and students said the team members all grew up with corporal punishment at their schools.

Mike Newton, Superintendent of the Jasper County Board of Education, did not grant an on-camera interview, but in a statement he said he could not discuss the video because of privacy concerns.

He also said, "When corporal punishment is used, it is with parental consent. The district is investigating the incident and looking into discipline policies at this time."