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Last year, Preble social studies teacher Jeff Kline wanted his 9th graders to research national issues and create a new federal law. Then-Representative Steve Kagen, M.D. offered to work with the kids and offer his Capitol Hill know-how of the legislative process. What has resulted is the collaborative work of Kagen and five social studies classes known as H.R. 3027, or “The Abolishment of Corporal Punishment in Public Schools Act 2011,” in an effort to ban corporal punishment in schools.
The bill summary states: In order to aid in the overall well being of children attending public schools; this bill provides that no teacher or staff member of any public school can use any form of corporal punishment as a means of punishment or as a way to change behavior.
Corporal punishment is allowed in 19 states: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Wyoming.
The students’ research discovered Representative Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY) introduced a similar piece of legislation a year earlier that did not find much success beyond the House Education and the Workforce Committee. Through Kagen, the students’ bill proposal was brought to Representative McCarthy’s office this past spring.
Congresswoman McCarthy submitted the legislation on September 22 for consideration by the U.S. House of Representatives. Six other congressional representatives are co-sponsoring the bill: Michael Capuano (D-MA), Keith Ellison (D-MN), Bob Filner (D-CA), Donald Payne (D-NJ), Jared Polis (D-CO), and Robert Scott (D-VA).
“The wonder of the American democracy is any citizen can have an influence over federal law,” said Jeff Kline, Preble High School social studies teacher. “These students have created a bill, and through the help of current and former Congressional representatives, may very well have helped to establish a national law.”

CANKTON, LA. — Eighth-grader Taylor Castille stopped in her sixth-period class at Sunset Elementary School on Monday and excused herself to use the restroom before the bell rang. The closest restroom was closed, so she walked across the school to use another facility in the fifth-grade building and met up with two friends, Emily Eadie and Madeline Odom.
They admit that they were walking back to class after the tardy bell, and knew they were in trouble when principal Marquet Rideau caught them crossing the quad. The three 13-year-old eighth-graders thought they would get a tardy mark on their ID cards, or worse, morning detention.
But they did not get either. Instead, another teacher handed Rideau the school paddle and walked off, the girls said. Then, Rideau hit the girls one time each on their buttocks and sent them back to class, they said. “I was embarrassed,” Emily said. “I’ve never been in trouble before.”
Documentation the girls’ parents obtained from the school verified that the tardy was the three girls’ first discipline problem at the school, and that Rideau administered corporal punishment for the girls being tardy.
Word spread quickly about the incident. It happened in the quad, which can be viewed from classrooms and other students milled around during the paddling, the girls said. “I feel like we were singled out,” Taylor said. “I don’t know if she was having a bad day, but she took it out on us.”
The three are honors students. Emily headed the school’s Red Ribbon Week celebration and Taylor was nominated for the school’s student of the year, said Candace Guidry, Emily’s mother.
Guidry, Madeline’s mother, Tiffany Savoy, and Taylor’s mother, Cynthia Castille — all Cankton residents — were outraged when their daughters came home from school and told them what happened. More alarming was that the three parents signed forms in August that asked the school to not use corporal punishment on their children.
The mothers provided copies of the forms on which they checked: “I do not authorize Sunset Elementary School to use corporal punishment to discipline my child. … Let it be known that children who cannot be administered corporal punishment may be suspended or you will be asked to come and remove the child from the school should such action be warranted.”
The mothers went to the school Tuesday and demanded an explanation. They questioned whether the school would have notified them about the punishment. During their meeting with Rideau, the principal admitted that the girls were good students and said the paddling was to remind them to be well-behaved, the mothers said. “It was very, very inappropriate,” Castille said.
She and the other mothers no longer support corporal punishment in schools. “Not after this.” Furthermore, the punishment should be reserved for students with repeated discipline problems, the mothers said, citing the St. Landry Parish School Board policy.
They have filed a complaint with the school board and the Sunset Police Department. Officials at the St. Landry Parish School Board could not be reached for comment, and attorney Gerard Caswell did not return a phone call requesting comment.
Sunset Police Chief Alexcie Guillory confirmed that a complaint has been filed, but said he could not comment further. “They have filed a complaint and it’s under investigation,” Guillory said.
Ideally, the mothers would like Rideau to be charged with simple battery and be terminated, they said. The girls were marked by the paddling, at least one saying it hurt to sit hours after the incident and after they had finished trick-or-treating.

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