[Written on stationery of Parents and Teachers Against Violence in Education. Names of the victim and the parent have been omitted here.]
December 13, 2005
June Atkinson, State Superintendent
Dear Superintendent Atkinson:
I am writing this letter to you as directed by Betsy West. My name is Peggy Dean, and I live in Union County, North Carolina. I am a member of the Board of Directors for a National organization called Parents and Teachers Against Violence in Education. It was through my advocacy efforts that I met T___ M_____, of Robeson County, and have come to assist her with an incident involving her twelve year old son, T_____.
On September 12, 2005, T_____, a student at Rowland Middle School, in Robeson County, North Carolina, was in between classes. He and another male student were involved in a game of “flinch”, which is described as a game of punching back and forth, the object being to make the opponent flinch. T_____ was taken to the office for punishment after it was said that he punched the other boy and made him cry. The other child was not punished.
Upon arrival to the office, Principal Penny Britt called T_____’s mother on her cell phone and got permission to paddle T______. She then asked teacher Anthony Britt to do the paddling for her. Penny Britt witnessed the paddling.
T_____ was struck a total of five times on the buttocks with a large wooden plank with holes drilled in it. On one side of the board, the inscription “R U Next” appears. I have included a copy of a photo of the actual paddle used for your records. After Mr. Britt struck T_____ for the first time, T_____ told them that he had to “pee”. He recounts that Penny Britt stated , “You are fixing to pee”, and then allowed him to go to the bathroom. T_____ emptied his bladder and stuffed toilet paper down the back of his pants to soften the blows of the paddle. Britt hit him a second time, said it didn’t sound right, felt the paper, and had T_____ remove it. He then hit T_____ three more times with the paddle, for a total of five hits.
The paddling incident happened around 1:30 in the afternoon. When T_____ arrived home shortly after 3:00PM, he was in severe pain, his buttocks inflamed and covered in bruises. His sister called for their mother to come home, forcing her to leave work early. She was horrified at the sight of her son’s buttocks, as I hope that you are. The enclosed photo was taken just hours after the paddling.
T___ M_____ immediately took T_____ to Rowland Middle School to show the involved staff the extent of T_____’s injuries. He pulled down his pants and showed his bruised buttocks to Penny Britt, Anthony Britt, Teacher Audrey Hunt, and Guidance Counselor Annie Locklear.
Ms. M_____ then took T_____ to the Board of Education Building, and showed his buttocks to Danny Stedman, assistant superintendent, Rosemarie Townsend, assistant superintendent, Linda Emanual, title unknown, and a staff person known as Miss Gwen, who voiced the most concern over the injuries.
T___ M______ then took T_____ to the Southeastern Regional Medical Center Emergency Room where he was examined and treated by the physician there. The Juvenile Task Force was called in by the ER doctor, and three rolls of film were taken by Kathy Torre, documenting the extent of T_____’s massive bruises. The photo enclosed with this letter is a color copy of one taken at this time, and given to me by T___ M_____, and shared with her permission.
The end result of these findings was that Johnson Britt, the District Attorney, did not press charges against this teacher. I drove down to Robeson County and addressed the Board of Education on October 12, 2005. All of the board members who were present were told of this incident and saw the same photo that you have. No action was taken against this teacher. Who holds him accountable for his misconduct?
In closing, I realize that the use of corporal punishment is allowed by state law, and left in the hands of the local districts. Surely the Code of Ethics for North Carolina Educators is meant to hold educators to a higher standard than the misconduct of Mr. Anthony Britt. It is a known fact that teachers who enjoy paddling students will seek employment in states that allow it. Would you entrust your children to the care of this teacher? I would not, and hope that you will take the steps necessary to protect the children in this school from future harm. Now that you have the facts, you are called to do what is right, and not fail to protect our children the way all of the named adults in this letter have failed to do. Please hold them accountable as well.
I respectfully ask for a written acknowledgement of this formal complaint, and to be informed of the nature of the follow up and progress of the investigation.
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