• Does running laps constitute corporal punishment?

    Date: 10.23.12 | by Judge Tom.

    Many, if not most, school districts have written policies regarding student discipline. The use of physical punishment (swats or paddling and outside drills) have come under scrutiny in recent years.

    An incident in the Des Moines, Iowa school district has brought new attention to the use of additional exercise as a method of changing behavior. The football coaches at Lincoln High School reportedly wanted sophomore Dante Campero to quit the team. They allegedly forced him to run for an hour without a water break, complete multiple hill-sprints and other exercises. He was told he’d be kicked off the team if he didn’t finish the drills. When he explained he couldn’t run any longer, he was dismissed from the team.

    Photo (not Dante) by Monica's Dad (Flickr)

    The incident was investigated and a report issued in October, 2012,concluded that the head coach violated the district’s bullying/harassment policy. The physical punishment imposed on Dante was determined to be unreasonable and constituted corporal punishment. All this because Dante posted a tweet critical of the school’s varsity football program. The coaches furthermore made Dante stand and read his tweet before the varsity team while they were permitted to respond with derogatory and threatening comments. Dante transferred to another school soon thereafter and the coaches were fired.

    All of this is offensive and wrong on many levels. Once again, freedom of speech backfires on a student. The coaches have lawyered up which is to be expected. Again, a lesson here, as we’ve recommended many times before, is to think before posting anything online or by cell phone. Think about possible consequences, even if your speech is legally protected speech. The final decision about whether what you said is protected or not won’t come for months or years after you hit “send.” In the meantime, consequences to yourself and your family are immediate.

    In a surprising turn in this area of education, a Texas school district voted recently to allow a person of the opposite gender to paddle a student. The Springtown Independent School District adopted a policy in 2011 that required a school official of the same sex to carry out the paddling. Then in September, 2012, the change was approved but also requires written permission from the parents and the presence of a same-gender school official.

    For more about corporal punishment in school, see the following stories:

    Student challenges corporal punishment law

    Basketball player paddled by coaches

    Judge Tom

    This post was written by Judge Tom. Judge Tom is the founder and moderator of AsktheJudge.info. He is a retired juvenile judge and spent 23 years on the bench. He has written several books for lawyers and judges as well as teens and parents including the recently published 'Teen Cyberbullying Investigated' (Free Spirit Publishing). When he's not answering teens' questions, Judge Tom can be found hiking, traveling and reading.

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    1 Comment subscribe to these comments.

    • CAROL TIERNAN
      Sun, 03 Feb 2013 at 11:40

      TO THE AUTHOR OF: Does running laps constitute corporal punishment? AND
      to Honorable JUDGE TOM.
      PLEASE: if you are going to ask the Judge a question regarding REAL PEOPLE, please tell the real true story, not what a Vindictive Investigator and 2 assistant Coaches, and soon to come will be his vindication. FYI.. the Compero Boy QUIT the team himself…he ran for 23 minutes in 74 degree heat….if your teammate tweeted that you were a fing loser, the team fing sucked and the program, oh, I forgot the fbo+b…theweeting…but he is just a boy who made a stupid mistake…and yes he should have apologized to the team…TEAM, what does the word mean to you? and what would that mean mean to you if it were you it was referring to..and because of this a great coach was wrongly, unjustly, unfairly terminated. It is sooo wrong, as wrong as you are with your Untrue account….glad you are not on a Jury
      Dear Carol: Thanks for writing and giving your two cents. We provided a summary of the story as it was told by a number of media outlets. Although corporal punishment and the school district’s decision to fire the coaches is mentioned, the article highlights the big issue for students to consider which is to think before posting or tweeting anything online. -ATJ