February 18, 2005
Michael Parker, District Attorney
PO Box 1065
Monroe, NC 28111-1065
Dear District Attorney Parker:
I am writing to alert you to an apparent, ongoing violation of North Carolina General Statute 115C-391 by the Union County Public School District, and/or its administrative staff and/or Board of Education.
The Statute states: § 115C-391. Corporal punishment, suspension, or expulsion of pupils. (a) Local boards of education shall adopt policies not inconsistent with the provisions of the Constitutions of the United States and North Carolina, governing the conduct of students and establishing procedures to be followed by school officials in suspending or expelling any student, or in disciplining any student if the offensive behavior could result in suspension, expulsion, or the administration of corporal punishment. Local boards of education shall include a reasonable dress code for students in these policies. The policies that shall be adopted for the administration of corporal punishment shall include at a minimum the following conditions: (1) Corporal punishment shall not be administered in a classroom with other children present; (2) The student body shall be informed beforehand what general types of misconduct could result in corporal punishment; (3) Only a teacher, substitute teacher, principal, or assistant principal may administer corporal punishment and may do so only in the presence of a principal, assistant principal, teacher, substitute teacher, teacher assistant, or student teacher, who shall be informed beforehand and in the student's presence of the reason for the punishment; and (4) An appropriate school official shall provide the child's parent or guardian with notification that corporal punishment has been administered, and upon request, the official who administered the corporal punishment shall provide the child's parent or guardian a written explanation of the reasons and the name of the second school official who was present. Each local board shall publish all the policies mandated by this subsection and make them available to each student and his parent or guardian at the beginning of each school year. Notwithstanding any policy adopted pursuant to this section, school personnel may use reasonable force, including corporal punishment, to control behavior or to remove a person from the scene in those situations when necessary: (1) To quell a disturbance threatening injury to others; (2) To obtain possession of weapons or other dangerous objects on the person, or within the control, of a student; (3) For self-defense; (4) For the protection of persons or property; or (5) To maintain order on school property, in the classroom, or at a school-related activity on or off school property.
Union County Schools have failed to comply with: "...(2) The student body shall be informed beforehand what general types of misconduct could result in corporal punishment;..." and "...(3)...Each local board shall publish all the policies mandated by this subsection and make them available to each student and his parent or guardian at the beginning of each school year..."
In my opinion, this matter goes far beyond a mere technical violation or oversight. Schools, at a minimum, should set a high standard for students. They should obey the law. My question to you, is as follows. Who holds them accountable for obeying the law, and who punishes a school system for not complying with the law?
Thank you for your kind attention. Please advise me of your receipt of this letter, and let me know when I can expect to learn how, or if, your office plans to address these allegations. If I can be of further assistance, don't hesitate to ask.
Peggy Dean, R.N.
Mother of four,
Resident of Union County, NC
cc : Roy Cooper, North Carolina Attorney General;
Alberto Gonzales, United States Attorney General;
Margaret Spellings, United States Secretary of Education;
James Manning, United States Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights.
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