Obion County Board of Education
January 11, 2010

Agenda Item: VII.C.

Consider/Approve Amendment to Board Policy #6.314 – Corporal Punishment

Background Information:

The recommended amendment to Board Policy #6.314 – Corporal Punishment – has a history that needs a little explanation. To summarize, on or about October 7, 2009, we, along with several school systems across the State, received notice from the United States Department of Education Office of Civil Rights (OCR), that a compliant had been received alleging discrimination on the basis of sex. Specifically, Tennesseans for Nonviolent School Discipline alleged that the District may be discriminating on the basis of sex with respect to the use of corporal punishment as a form of discipline. OCR indicated that it intended to conduct a prompt investigation of this compliant and requested a lot of information.

On October 13, 2009, I received a memorandum from the Tennessee Department of Education (TDOE) advising not to send any information to OCR until further notice. The TDOE and the Tennessee School Boards Association (TSBA) were to meet with the OCR regarding the compliant in an attempt to agree on a solution/amendment to recommended Board policy to prevent school systems from having to compile the requested information. Upon this notice from the TDOE, I prepared and sent a memorandum to the OCR so that notice would be on file that Obion County did respond to their request.

On October 29, 2009, I received a follow-up memorandum from the TDOE, which indicated that a resolution had been agreed upon. OCR agreed to close the complaint if the District would amend its Corporal Punishment policy to delete item number six (6), which states

In determining the use and degree of corporal punishment, consideration will be given to the age, sex, size, physical and emotional condition of the child.

On December 8, 2009, TSBA provided a proposed Board policy with the above sentence recommended for deletion. The revised policy deadline is January 15, 2010; therefore, the Board will need to waive the second reading as required by Board policy.

In actual practice, I highly doubt that any principal/teacher who has ever used corporal punishment discriminated based upon the sex of a student. However, a facial reading of Board policy does unintentionally “suggest” a different degree of punishment for the same offense based upon the sex of the student.

Staff Recommendation:

I agree with the TSBA’s proposed revision, and recommend that the Board approve the amendment to Board Policy 6.314 – Corporal Punishment – on first and final reading.