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Northampton County Schools Add Corporal Punishment As Discipline Option

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NORTHAMPTON, N.C. — School administrators in Northampton County are picking up the paddle again to maintain discipline.

The school board voted to adopt a new corporal punishment code for first-, second- and third-graders.

The decision isn't sitting well with everyone.

Lisa Terry's children are on their best behavior under her watch at the Jackson Public Library. But they're not always perfect angels.

"Yeah, they all get into it sometimes," Terry said. "But I don't agree with that spanking much."

Spanking -- or paddling -- will be an option in Northampton County Elementary Schools this year for grades one through three.

"If the parent at home would discipline their children, we wouldn't have to use it at all," Katherine Moody, the Northampton County School Board chair, said of the paddling.

It has been several years since the system condoned paddling unruly children. But Moody said that when principals run out of discipline options, suspension from school is the only thing left.

"You send a child home, and I keep saying: 'Children cannot learn at home,'" Moody said.

The new corporal punishment policy states that only the principal can paddle a child, in the principal's office, with a witness. And it is never to be administered in anger.

Also, parents must be told when it will happen.

"We don't plan to do any abuse," Moody said. "We don't plan to scare anybody's child. I know they will be lightly paddled. It will be like they are home getting the home remedy -- spanking."

Northampton school leaders hope that just the sight of a principal's paddle will make its use rare.

The state does not keep track of which school systems use corporal punishment. But several systems use it as an alternative to suspension, and only with the permission of the parent.

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