Paddling could soon be back in Marion County Schools

Incoming board member says corporal punishment more effective than suspension

OCALA, Fla. - The idea of corporal punishment in schools may seem like something out of another era, but school officials in Marion County may bring the practice of paddling back.

Incoming school board member Carol Ely supports paddling as a form of discipline, and she may have the support to influence the school board to vote in the affirmative.

Ely was the principal at Ocala's Shady Hill Elementary for 14 years, where she administered corporal punishment. She said it worked, and she wants to bring it back.

"It was very effective the way we implemented it. We only did it on very small occasions, but it was for children who were chronic [misbehavers]," Ely said.

During her experience as principal, Ely said she saw firsthand that paddling was more effective than other forms of punishment, like suspension.

"The return rate of children for corporal punishment has been almost zero," she said.

If the Marion County School Board brings the paddling initiative up for a vote this fall, Ely said it would only be used as a last resort with parent permission.

Some parents said they would sign off on the practice if their child acted out.

"I would let them get a spanking and when they get home they would get another one for disrespecting school," said Linda McClean.

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But other parents strongly disagree with paddling or spanking.

"No one should ever hit my kid. It should never be allowed," said Jerrilyn Taylor.

The school board banned paddling in 2010 after concerns parents might raise lawsuits against the district, but Ely said two other board members support bringing it back.

Ely promises to bring up the initiative when she takes her place on the board in November.

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