When the St. Landry Parish School Board meets tomorrow, they will consider a recommendation to revise the parish policy on corporal punishment.
The proposed revision would add the language "no employee or agent of the St. Landry Parish School Board shall be permitted to use corporal punishment upon a student to reform unacceptable conduct or as a penalty for unacceptable conduct. Corporal punishment means using physical force to discipline a student, with or without an object. Corporal punishment includes hitting, paddling, striking, spanking, slapping, or any other physical force that causes pain or physical discomfort."
The old policy allowed "reasonable corporal punishment of unruly pupils. If such punishment is required, it shall be administered with extreme care, tact and caution, and then only by the principal, assistant principal, or the principal's designated representative in the presence of another adult school employee." The old policy, which was adopted more than 30 years ago and last revised in 2017, defines corporal punishment as "using physical force to discipline a student, with or without an object. Corporal punishment includes hitting, paddling, striking, spanking, slapping, or any other physical force that causes pain or physical discomfort."
Corporal punishment remains legal in only 19 of the United States currently, and only 15 states currently use it in public schools.
Last year, a publication of the Harvard Graduate School of Education posted results of a study on the impact spanking has on a child's brain.
"Research has long underscored the negative effects of spanking on children’s social-emotional development, self-regulation, and cognitive development, but new research, published this month, shows that spanking alters children’s brain response in ways similar to severe maltreatment and increases perception of threats," the article states.
“The findings are one of the last pieces of evidence to make sense of the research of the last 50 years on spanking,” says researcher Jorge Cuartas, a Ph.D. candidate at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, who coauthored the study with Katie McLaughlin, professor at the Department of Psychology at Harvard University. “We know that spanking is not effective and can be harmful for children’s development and increases the chance of mental health issues. With these new findings, we also know it can have potential impact on brain development, changing biology, and leading to lasting consequences.”
To read the full article, with links to the study itself, click here.
A paper in the National Institutes of Health's library looked at 20 years of research on corporal punishment, and noted a "growing body of literature on the impact of adverse childhood experiences on neurological, cognitive, emotional and social development, as well as physical health. Although some studies have found no relation between physical punishment and negative outcomes, and others have found the relation to be moderated by other factors, no study has found physical punishment to have a long-term positive effect, and most studies have found negative effects."
To read that paper, click here.
Also on Thursday's agenda is a discussion of a proposed premium increase for the school system's HRA plan.
The discussion, requested by Superintendent Patrick Jenkins, would cover "the exorbitant and unfair premium increase imposed on the school boards participating in the Pelican HRA 1000 Plan," the agenda states.
According to the Office of Group Benefits' website, The Pelican HRA 1000 is "a Health Reimbursement Arrangement, or HRA" which is described as "an account used to reimburse employees' medical expenses and other medical costs." It is designed to keep premiums low but still ensure employees can afford their medical expenses.
According to a proposed resolution, "the Policy Planning Board of the Office of Group Benefits met on October 6, 2021, and voted to increase the premium rates for the school boards on the Pelican HRA 1000 plan by 24.4%, instead of the 5% increase that other agencies received, without providing any explanation or evidence to justify this differential and burdensome treatment."
The resolution calls on the Office of Group Benefits to "provide reasons or evidence to justify actions taken in the past or future on those public agencies with GAP coverage."
Also on the agenda are revisions to the faculty and staff dress code, and the parish's Pupil Progression Plan for the upcoming school year.
The board meeting starts at 5 p.m. at the Supplementary Resource Center, 1013 Creswell Lane, Opelousas.
You can read the agenda and all back-up materials for yourself on the Board Docs site. Just click here, find the meeting you want to review and click on the link.