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Carver's former assistant principal condemns paddling

By Staff
FORMER ASSISTANT PRINCIPAL Ralph McLaney, former Carver Middle School assistant principal, looks over memos and letters regarding his decision not to paddle students. McLaney worked for the Meridian Public School District from July until September 2003. He lives in Brandon with his wife and three daughters, and is currently looking for a job. Photo by Georiga E. Frye/The Meridian Star
By Georgia E. Frye / staff writer
March 24, 2004
BRANDON Former Carver Middle School Assistant Principal Ralph McLaney said he believes school administrators use paddling to discipline students because it's quick and convenient.
McLaney, a Brandon resident, resigned from his job at Carver in September 2003 after he said he was ordered by Carver Principal Earnest Ward to paddle students.
McLaney talked about his views on corporal punishment in an interview at his Brandon home; McLaney's story first gained attention after an interview with The Washington Post.
McLaney, who is currently unemployed, said he refused to paddle students at Carver because he thought "a change in the culture of the school might improve student achievement."
Paddle when necessary
Ward said he didn't want to discuss why McLaney left Carver. Ward said paddling has been approved by the Meridian School Board and is used at Carver when he believes it is necessary.
McLaney also said he felt uncomfortable paddling students because he was afraid of hurting them.
While corporal punishment is banned in 28 states, it is still used in Mississippi, Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana and Tennessee. School districts in New Orleans, Atlanta and Jackson, however, have banned paddling in schools.
The Federal Office of Civil Rights reports that during the 2000-2001 school year, 495 students were enrolled at Carver.
During that time, the office said, more than half of the students received corporal punishment. The report also said that 75 of those who were paddled were female and 180 were male.
Autry backs paddling
The office also said that of the 7,080 students enrolled in the Meridian Public School District during that time, 1,010, or almost 23 percent, were paddled.
Meridian School Superintendent Sylvia Autry said she initially was unaware that McLaney left Carver because he refused to paddle students.
Autry also said that while paddling is used at Carver and the other schools in the district, it is not used repeatedly on the same student. She agreed with McLaney that paddling is a quick and convenient form of punishment.
Dr. Robert Fathman, president of the
National Coalition to Abolish Corporal Punishment in Schools, said that paddling affects each student differently but almost always causes students to be angry or afraid.

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