Request for Advice
A letter to President and Mrs. Clinton

February 24, 1997

Dear President and Mrs. Clinton:

Were Chelsea sent home from school in the condition of the Texas schoolchild shown in the enclosed photo, I am certain you would take the matter very seriously. You are aware, of course, that in 23 states the right of school personnel to batter any child in the pelvic area with a wooden board is perfectly legal and that the perpetrators of such acts are powerfully protected.

What advice can you offer parents living in those 23 states -- parents who object to this form of pediatric violence and who fear for their children's well-being at school? If you cannot respond personally, please redirect this request to the appropriate office or agency in your administration for response.

Thank you for your kind attention.

Jordan Riak, Executive Director
Parents and Teachers Against Violence in Education(PTAVE)
P.O. Box 1033, Alamo, CA 94507-7033

Enclosed photo

Response of April 17, 1997, from William Modzeleski, Director, Safe and Drug-Free Schools Program, United States Department of Education.

APR 9 1997

Mr. Jordan Riak
Parents and Teachers Against Violence in Education
P.O. Box 1033
Alamo, California 94507-7033

Dear Mr. Riak:

Thank you for your letter to President Clinton regarding discipline policies in schools. Your letter has been forwarded to the U.S. Department of Education for response.

The overall purpose of a discipline code is to assist students in making proper choices, and to help them avoid mistakes that can, and do, have adverse consequences for themselves, their families, communities, schools, and Nation, which can ill afford to lose their skills, talents, and vitality. As such we believe that every school should have a discipline policy and that this policy should be fairly and consistently enforced.

With regard to your specific request for advice regarding discipline policies, I must inform you that this matter must be resolved at the State and local level. While the U.S. Department of Education (ED) does not advocate the use of corporal punishment, most issues related to education, including discipline, are primarily the responsibility of State and local government. ED has a limited role to play in these matters and is prohibited under the Department of Education Reorganization Act from exercising any direction, supervision, or control over the curriculum, program of instruction, or personnel of any educational institution, school, or school system.

Thus, If you believe that physical discipline imposed at schools is unfair or excessive, I would urge you and members of your organization to work with principals, superintendents, and school boards regarding possible modification of the disciplinary policies. You may also wish to contact the Chief State School Officers regarding State disciplinary policies. I have enclosed a list for your information.

I hope this information is helpful to you. If we can be of further assistance, please do not hesitate to contact me.

William Modzeleski,
Director, Safe and Drug-Free Schools Program


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