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Board taking whack at paddling rule

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No longer belongs in school, says Himmel

By Mike Wright

CRYSTAL RIVER — Rumps rejoice! The “board of education” is headed for retirement.

Citrus County School District officials said they’re ready to remove paddling as a form of punishment from their student code of conduct.

Paddling has been on the books in Citrus County for decades. But it hasn’t been used for several years, and when school board members reviewed recommended code changes last week, board member Thomas Kennedy suggested getting rid of corporal punishment altogether.

Others agreed.

“I don’t think there’s anything we should condone about paddling,” board member Pat Deutschman said.

Paddling was once considered an effective form of punishment.

School board member Ginger Bryant, who taught 28 years at Crystal River Middle School, said she occasionally used the paddle on unruly students.

“In some cases it was all we could do to keep a child in line,” Bryant said Monday.

Student Services coordinator Cherise Cernich, who spent about 15 years as an assistant principal at Lecanto Middle School, said paddling occurred only when parents requested it instead of sending children to in-school suspension.

“It was never initiated by the school,” she said. “Always by parent request. And it was very seldom.”

Superintendent of Schools Sandra “Sam” Himmel, who grew up in Citrus County, said she recalled being paddled in kindergarten.

“There was a fire drill and I was finger painting,” Himmel said. “I went to wash my hands while everyone left. They paddled me for not leaving for the fire drill.”

Himmel said paddling no longer has a place in schools.

“A lot of things that were popular back in the day are not so popular now,” she said. “For a lot of parents this is not their choice of discipline. That should be a parent’s choice.”

Deutschman, the board’s senior member, agreed.

“Times have changed in the ways we discipline children,” she said. “This is just a bygone era.”

Contact Chronicle reporter Mike Wright at 352-563-3228 or mwright@chronicleonline.com.