Memphis Academy of Health Sciences is a Menace to the Health of Children

Dear Friends and Family,

The letter at the right represents the tip of the iceberg of what is going on in a Memphis , TN charter school located in an impoverished neighborhood called, Nutbush , TN. The children there are being brutalized. What is going on in this school is yet the tip of the iceberg of the gross mistreatment that our children are enduring everyday in the remaining 21 U S paddling states and its territories.

I am writing to request a donation of any size to help fund my trip to campaign for having this school closed immediately. This school is so out of control that recently a 15 year old girl was taken from there by a former uncertified staff member, raped, and returned to school before school was out. That story was in their local March 24 newspaper, Commercial Appeal.

The goal of The Hitting Stops Here! is to have this school placed front and center in the news, and to enlighten the general American public to the fact that this type of abuse is going on in the classrooms of the paddling states every school day. The difference between this school and some others is that the beatings of the students takes place in a stage-like setting where the entire student body can watch and jeer while certain of their peers are beaten in most horrific ways. (See letter at the right for details.)

If we are successful, and I believe we will be, we have a great chance of having our children protected by the U. S. Constitution from assault and battery and from a whole list of other rights-violations perpetrated by teachers and administrators under the guise of discipline. Under the Eighth Ammendment to the Constitution, all citizens are (or should be) protected from "cruel and unusual punishment." But clearly the rights of children who live in paddling discticts are ignored the minute they set foot on their school campus.

If each recipient of this letter makes just a twenty dollar donation toward my trip to Memphis, we'll succeed in having this school shut down, and in exposing others like it. You will be making a contribution toward having our children protected from out-of-control adults running schools.

Please review the ABC News report that we gave on Friday, March 27. The link is at the top of

To make a donation, go to the section "Help Support Our Work" near the top of our Web site. You can make your donation by using Paypal or by writting a check to PTAVE. In either case, be sure to write HSH Project in the memo.

Personal checks can be mailed to:

Paula Flowe
c/o: PTAVE
P O Box 1033

Alamo , CA 94507-7033

Thank you in advance for your much-needed support.

Paula Flowe

March 31, 2009

An Open Letter to ABC News Reporter, Mr. Kevin Holmes:

Thank you for reporting the issue of corporal punishment taking place at Memphis Academy of Health Sciences.

If this school is not shut down by Wednesday, April 1, I will be on the next available flight to Memphis with plans to campaign in front of the school. I intend to expose the brutal treatment of children that is occurring there daily. ABC News has already reported the “Chapel” punishment ritual in which children are beaten in front of the assembled student body. But there's more.

After my interview with you, a few parents and children contacted The Hitting Stops Here! to offer information concerning the random and rampant abuse going on in this school.

This is what I learned.

Girls are whipped on their hands with a leather strap wielded by Principal Curtis Weathers -- a 6' 6" former football player. The girls to be whipped await their turn while the audience watches in anticipation. As he swings his belt, Mr. Weathers counts off 10 strokes. If the victim, out of fear or pain, retracts her hand, the count starts over again. If she cannot make it through ten strokes, she is suspended and must try again the following Friday. She is not allowed to resume classes until she successfully completes the hand-beating ritual. The psychological effects on a child undergoing such an experience -- or witnessing it -- can only be guessed, and the high risk to the delicate anatomy of the hand cannot be over-stated.

Girls are also beaten on their buttocks. When Ms. Biles, President of Middle School, does the honors, the paddle is her weapon of choice. The victim moves to the center of the floor, grasps the back of a chair and assumes a rump-presentation posture, whereupon Ms. Biles, delivers five swift blows to the buttocks.

It should be noted that the human buttock area is an erogenous zone, and research scientists have long recognized that abuse to that region can cause sexual confusion, low self-esteem and a host of other long-term issues. When done to a non-consenting adult, it constitutes sexual battery.

The paddling of boys, done by Mr. Weathers, has a few added features. He first looks down into the boy's pants to be sure he hasn't padded his seat with extra clothing. Anything that might cushion the blows is removed. Then, he typically grabs the waistband or belt of the boy's pants and jerks him into position for the paddling. This upward hoisting of the garment, causes child's genitals to be jambed against the body. This is a form of sexual bullying commonly referred to in youth culture jargon as a "wedgie." The effect of a "wedgie" on a male's genitals is similar to that of being grabbed. When the student is in position, Mr. Weathers whacks him repeatedly with the paddle. Mr. Weathers has two paddles which he has affectionately dubbed, "The Terminator" and "Mr. Wood."

Reasons for paddling are vague and varied. The most trivial breach of rules, such as getting out of one's seat to pick up a pencil, chewing gum, being a few seconds late to class, or taking too long in the restroom, can result in a paddling. One child told me that the way he knows that he is due for a Friday paddling is when he sees his name on the list, and that he often doesn't have the faintest idea why he is being punished. Some children's names appear on the list week after week. The assumption of guilt is automatic. No exceptions. If one's name is on the list, one gets it.

Reactions of the students viewing the spectacle range from pleasure to discomfort. This is the only time when outbursts of laughter and jeering are tolerated, if not encouraged. While some students are frankly entertained, others block their ears and stare at the floor.

Bathroom passes are not automatic, and evidently not based on reasonable, personal need. It is not uncommon for a student to struggle through much of the school day trying to reconcile the demands of bladder or bowel with the whims of teachers.

And there is a punishment room. It's a dreary, empty place where a student can be expected to sit for hours with nothing to do but stare at the bare wall.

The Physical Education class is run by a large, intimidating man. Like the Principal Weathers, he is a former athlete. He frequently yells at, humiliates and manhandles students. On at least one occasion when he took charge of a class of about 17 students, he began the session by physically punishing every one -- the paddle to the boys' buttocks, and the strap to the girls' hands. Their alleged misconduct? Talking. If an abused student begins to cry, he tells him to "man up," or "suck it up."

I called the Memphis Police Dept. to find out if I can report a crime that I know of in Memphis even though I am from out of town. They informed me that it did not matter whether I was from out of town and that I could give my report. When I began telling my report, their response changed to, “We don't take reports by phone. I can't help you...we don't handle that...” leaving me with no viable option for having these children protected right away.

The children attending this school are not being protected by their parents, by the school, or by the local police.

Sincerely yours,

Paula Flowe, Director
The Hitting Stops Here!
A campaign for teaching kindness and respect in schools everywhere.
Board member, Parents and Teachers Against Violence in Education

Express Your Outrage
These people need to hear from you

    The first three names on this list support having corporal punishment banned in all U.S. schools. They are compiling stories and information in preparation of sending a report to Congress. Please send your letter or case to:
  1. Alice Farmer, Member ACLU: ACLU, 125 Broad Street, 18th Floor New York, NY 10004
  2. Luke Moses, U.S. House and Labor Committee Aide
  3. C. Hodakeivic, Government Accountability Office Aide
  4. U.S. Congressman James E. Clyburn, (Aide and Advisor to the President) 2135 Rayburn House Office Building Washington, 20515 Phones: 202-225-3315 (DC office), 803-799-1100 (SC office)
  5. Mr. Eric Hilgendorf, Dir. of Memphis Charter Schools: 615-741-8486
  6. Ms. Christy Ballard, Legal Council for Dept. of Ed.: 615-741-2921,
  7. Mr. Bernal Smith, Mem. Chap. Pres.: 901-626-3994,
  8. Chief of Police of Memphis, Mr. Larry Godwin, 901-545-570,
  9. Mayor: Mr. Willie Herenton, 901-576-6007,
  10. Governor Phil Bredesen, 615-741-2001,
  11. City Council Member Bill Morrison, 901-576-6786,
  12. City Council Member William C. Boyd, 901-576-6786,
  13. City Council Member Harold B. Collins, 901-576-6786 or 901-545-5987,
  14. City Council Member Wanda Halbert, 901-576-6786,
  15. City Council Member Jim Strickland, 901-576-6786,
  16. City Council Member Edmund Ford, Jr., 901-576-6786,
  17. City Council Member Barbara Swearengen Ware, 901-458-9406,
  18. City Council Member Joe Brown, 901-274-4724
  19. City Council Member Janis Fullilove, 901-576-6786,
  20. City Council Member Myron Lowery, 901-521-4300,
  21. City Council Member Kemp Conrad, 901-576-6786,
  22. City Council Member Shea Flinn, 901-576-6786,
  23. City Council Member Reid Hedgepeth, 901-576-6786,
  24. Senator Dolores R. Gresham, Chair, TN Senate Education Committee, 615-741-2368,
  25. Rep. Harry Brooks, Chair, TN General Assembly Education Committee, 615-741-6879,