To paddle or not to paddle? That's the question before state lawmakers., January 29, 2008

29 states have banned corporal punishment in their schools, Ohio is not one of them. That could soon change and one school district will have to change their practices if that happens.

When students in the Mogadore School District get into trouble, they get a choice: a whack with a paddle or a 30 minute detention.

The district superintendent, Terry Byers, who's also the principal of Mogadore High School, says students get the choice when it's usually for minor offenses like talking, being late to class, and not coming to class prepared.

"Some prefer to take the whack and others serve the detention." said Byers, "The majority serve the detention."

Byers says he is the one who renders the punishment if a student chooses the paddle. He says it is done in his office.

"It's not difficult. I've been doing it for 30 years, so it's old school for me."

But while some parents may find the paddle offensive, one parent FOX 8 talked to says she does not have a problem with corporal punishment in schools.

Shelley Baer says, "Back when I went to school we had spankings and I think a lot of kids probably turned out a little better."

The Portage County District could lose that option if a bill now in the Ohio House's Education Committee is approved.

State Representative Brian Williams (D-Akron), one of the bill's co-sponsors, says it is time Ohio joins the 29 other states that have banned corporal punishment. He says paddling just does not work.

Since the 1990's, very few Ohio districts have used corporal punishment. In Mogadore, the superintendent says he likes to give his students a choice.

"For some students it may not make a difference. Others it does." says Byers, "It's like any form of discipline. Some you could do whatever and they'lll still misbehave, or some, detention or a whack will straighten them up."

In 2005 and 2006, Byers says 13 students in Mogadore opted for corporal punishment instead of detention. Three of those students went under the paddle twice that year. Byers says these were the latest figures available.

The superintendent says if the law changes, then paddling will no longer be an option at his school district. "If that's what the law says then we'll abide by the law. It's not a problem."


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