ABC News’ Mitchell Goulding reports:
Officials at a Texas high school plan to ask their board tonight to change a policy requiring that spanking punishments be administered only by employees of the same gender as the student to receive the punishment.
That proposed request comes on the heels of outcry after a male vice principal in the district administered legal spanking punishments to female students.
Taylor Santos, a well-regarded student and athlete at Springtown High School, near Fort Worth, Texas, chose to be paddled as punishment for allowing another student to copy her homework. She opted for the paddling over a second day of suspension after having already served one day of a two-day suspension.
Her mother, Anna Jorgensen, agreed to the punishment as long as her daughter was OK with it, but was surprised the spanking was administered by a man, she told local ABC affiliate WFAA.
As far as Jorgensen knew, she said, school policy mandated that males spank males and females spank females.
She said her daughter’s buttocks were red and appeared blistered due to the force of the spanking.
The district’s superintendent told ABC News that administrators followed Texas law.
“The Texas Education Code and our local policies state that if a parent or guardian does not want corporal punishment administered to his/her child, for each school year the parent or guardian must provide the district a separate written and signed statement to that effect. Otherwise, the use of corporal punishment is permissible,” Mike Kelley, superintendent for the Springtown Independent School District said in a statement.
“In practice, our district goes one step further. It does not administer corporal punishment unless the parent or guardian requests that it be administered,” the statement read. “There has been no deviation from that practice. Any deviation from the district’s policy by district staff will be corrected. ”
While paddling in public schools has been outlawed by 31 states, as well as by Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico, the Supreme Court ruled in 1977 that it was legal unless it has abolished by local authorities, according to the web site Corpun.com.
It is legal in 19 states. Efforts to ban it in Wyoming, North Carolina, Louisiana and Texas failed. However, in 2011 laws were introduced in both Texas and North Carolina giving parents the right to exempt their students from paddling.
The day after her daughter’s paddling, Jorgensen called the vice principal to complain, but was told it was “normal for her bottom to look like this after receiving swats.” The vice principal added that he had no idea about the same gender swatting, Jorgensen said.
But according to the school’s own policy, spanking of a student can only be done by an employee of the same gender.
Another student, Jada Watt, said she mouthed off to the same male vice principal, and received the same punishment, which was observed by a male police officer.
Her mother, Cathi, said she “wasn’t expecting a bruise.”
“A swat is a swat, yes it is and they do sting. But to bruise a child? If I had done that, they would have called CPS on me,” Cathi Watt told WFAA, referring to Child Protection Services.
“Two men giving her a swat behind closed doors, that is creepy,” she added.
Springtown ISD Superintendent Mike Kelley told WFAA that he will ask the board to eliminate the requirement of same gender spanking.
He said the same-sex spanking policy can be difficult to observe in smaller schools where aren’t enough female administrators around to mete out punishment to female students.
Watt and Jorgensen object to any policy change. They don’t believe men should hit women under any circumstances.