A Missouri school district is bringing back corporal punishment, USA Today reports.
Cassville School District Superintendent Merlyn Johnson announced plans to reinstate spanking as a disciplinary action for all 1,900 students that make up the district on Wednesday (Aug. 24). Although the school system did away with the form of discipline in 2001, Johnson says, “It is something that has happened on my watch and I’m OK with it.” According to a decision made by the Supreme Court in 1977, corporal punishment is constitutional, which means that the decision to permit it is left to each individual state.
While the policy was approved in June by the school board, it will only serve as a last resort and requires written permission from parents. Families will be given the opportunity to opt out, however, Johnson says he has received a lot of support from the community on the decision.
He described Cassville as a “very traditional community in Southwest Missouri,” and noted that parents have often complained that corporal punishment was not allowed in the district. “Parents have said, ‘Why can’t you paddle my student?’ and we’re like, ‘We can’t paddle your student, our policy does not support that,'” Johnson explained. “There had been conversation with parents and there had been requests from parents for us to look into it.”
The new policy may have raised eyebrows on social media, but the superintendent says that families residing in Cassville have had a very different response. “We’ve had people actually thank us for it,” said Johnson. “Surprisingly, those on social media would probably be appalled to hear us say these things, but the majority of the people that I’ve run into have been supportive.” Furthermore, he shared that the school district respects “the decision of every parent, whatever decision they make.”