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article image10-year-old Covered In Bruises Following Parent's Choice To Allow School Paddling

By Nikki Weingartner     Nov 21, 2008 in World
A 10-year-old boy at an elementary school in Texas was handed out some pretty harsh discipline. The little boy's mom opted for a paddling but the extensive bruising that followed caused alarm. The mother immediately contacted local police.
After engaging in a fight at school, 10-year-old Andy Garcia most likely made the walk of shame like all other children do after getting caught: the road to the Principal's Office. But for this fourth grader, the consequences for his actions are now being investigated as possible child abuse after Assistant Principal Joe Rios dished out the "board of justice."
In a local news report that explains details of the incident, Andy's mom received a phone call from Rios earlier in the week stating that her son had gotten in a fight and that disciplinary action would need to be taken. That discipline was left in mom's hands and she agreed to "a lick" with a paddle, a legal discipline strategy employed by the Refugio Independent School District in Refugio, Texas.
Her reasoning for the choice was that her son suffers from ADD/ADHD and because the alternative disciplinary action of three days suspension from school would impact his learning and educational capabilities. ADD/ADHD is considered a disability by the Texas Education Code and those who are diagnosed and in the special education system are entitled to disciplinary modifications based upon that disability.
It is not clear whether Andy was a special education student in the school district, only that his mother stated he was ADD/ADHD and disabled. To be a special education student, one must be diagnosed medically with a qualifiable disability. After a diagnosis is made, students who are in special education are entitled to a "Free and Appropriate Education" within the "Least Restrictive Environment" which means that modifications are made to their individual education plans that allow them to function on par with a non-special education student. This includes discipline modifications.
Later that evening, Andy began to show signs of severe bruising, prompting his mom to call the police. Andy described his punishment by Assistant Principal Rios as if Rios were swinging a baseball bat over his shoulder and stated to his mother that he was struck three times. Andy's mom was under the belief that "a lick" meant only ONE.
School District Superintendent, Bobby Azam, went on camera and stated that the district's policy did not specify a certain number of appropriate licks and the district policy itself stated:
"Corporal punishment had been approved"
Several questions regarding the policy became evident in that the written policy clearly stated that this type of punitive action was to be used as a last resort when other forms of punishment had failed. Also, parents in Refugio ISD have the option to "opt out" of the Corporal Punishment policy by submitting their refusal in writing.
So it seems there is a 10-year-old with a possible diagnosis of ADD/ADHD whose mom agreed to "a lick" as a first line of punishment, not a last resort and who is now suffering from extensive bruising from said paddling after receiving not one, but allegedly three over-the-shoulder baseball swing whoopings? Moreover, because policy didn't "clearly" state a certain number, then an Assistant Principal might just be able to say that he didn't agree to a set number, although the mom was under the impression that "a lick" meant one?
If Joe Rios is found guilty of any wrongdoing, the district's range of disciplinary action for him will be anything from a Letter of Reprimand that will be discarded when he leaves the district to termination of this job. However, Child Protective Services, the Refugio Police Department and the district are all three investigating.
Pending medical reports on the extent of the injuries, Rios could be charged with injury to a child. And for little Andy, the fourth grader who in the news tape was obviously a small child, I wonder if this severe a beating will likely alter the impulsive behaviours so concurrent with a disability like ADD/ADHD?
Just over twenty states in the United States allow Corporal Punishment, while just under thirty states have made the practice illegal. However, the choice here was clearly given to the parent. Its the hostile method and extensive bruising that would send a parent who left the same marks on their child to prison that is in the hot seat.
There is one disciplinary measure for Mr. Rios that might be seen as appropriate if he is found guilty of causing such horrific bruising. Some 6 ft 7 in bruiser named Bo swinging a wooden device might assist the Assistant Principal in the future regarding disciplinary actions.
More about Corporal Punishment, Refugio, Bruising
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