Does running laps constitute corporal punishment?
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.
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: