DISD trustees who are opposed to corporal punishment pushed their point Wednesday after an administrator reported that 51 children in the district were allegedly injured in the last school year by school employees.
"Fifty-one injuries is too many," trustee Ken Zornes said. "I will not support a policy that ... provides the opportunity for youngsters to be injured."
The district's child abuse office received 353 anonymous complaints that stemmed from alleged corporal punishment or hitting in 2002-03, according to Rose Marie Allen, associate superintendent of student support and special services.
Ms. Allen said 51 of the reports included allegations of injuries, from bruises to broken bones. She said the incidents have yet to be substantiated.
Some trustees in favor of paddling questioned the numbers.
"I find it very hard to believe that there have been 51 injuries and it's the first that I've heard of it," board President Hollis Brashear said.
Dallas school trustees disagreed about whether paddling should be allowed. Some cited cultural differences for their support of the practice, while others likened paddling to abuse.
Superintendent Mike Moses said a lot of research has concluded that corporal punishment isn't the best practice.
"I'm not sure as an educator that I can argue that it has done great educational benefit," he said. "I think that if corporal punishment is going to be issued, it is best issued by the parent."
Some black trustees said corporal punishment has been accepted in their culture.
"Some schools, in maybe some of your districts, don't need corporal punishment," trustee Ron Price told board members. "I support how your area feels, but you need to support how our areas feel. You don't live in my community."
Mr. Price said he has found that some students consider suspension a "vacation."
He called alternative education schools a form of "warehousing children."
Dr. Moses offered a solution for trustees on both sides of the issue. He recommended allowing it in schools where 80 percent of parents sign a petition in favor of it.
As with any policy, the change would require a board vote.
Trustees were split on the recommendation, and it wasn't clear Wednesday whether they would vote on the matter next week as planned.
Trustee Lois Parrott, who is against corporal punishment, noted information from a district administrator who said the majority of children in Dallas Independent School District who are being paddled are black.
"If I vote for it then ... in a way I'm voting for it's OK to have African-American children being paddled," Dr. Parrott said.
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