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Last updated: Thu. Oct. 07, 2010 - 10:51 am EDT

Mother of spanked EACS boy plans to sue

While not illegal, most districts forbid corporal punishment.

The use of spanking and other forms of corporal punishment on students isn't illegal in Indiana, but the mother of a Village Elementary student believes her son's third-grade teacher should be fired for spanking her son. According to Indiana code, district employees have the right to discipline children in a way that is necessary to “promote student conduct that conforms with an orderly and effective educational system.”

But Nini Battles said she plans to file a lawsuit against the district. “If he hit my son, he shouldn't be teaching.”

East Allen County Schools has a no-corporal-punishment policy. Superintendent Karyle Green said the district turns over investigative responsibility to authorities. The teacher allegedly responsible for the spanking Friday is on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation.

According to a police report, Battles said she noticed her son “walking funny” after school Friday. She also told police her son, who is a third-grade special-needs student, complained of his back side hurting. Police found a red mark on the boy, just below the beltline on his back side. Police spokeswoman Raquel Foster said Fort Wayne Police are handling the ongoing investigation.

Fort Wayne Community Schools and Northwest and Southwest Allen County schools also have no-corporal-punishment policies.

According to a survey of Indiana school districts in 2006, both NACS and FWCS had no reported incidents of corporal punishment. SACS and EACS were not included in the survey.

The data comes from the U.S. Department of Education Civil Rights Data Collection.

According to the 2006 data, 17 districts in the state, including two in Indianapolis, had reported the use of corporal punishment on students, with some reporting as many as 40 instances.

The same day Battles made a police report, the mother of a third-grader in the School City of Mishawaka district reported the use of duct tape on her son, who has a form of autism. It was unclear from the mother's report to police and to the South Bend Tribune whether the teacher forced duct tape onto the child's mouth or made the boy put duct tape on his own mouth, according to an Associated Press article.

School City of Mishawaka's legal counsel, Greg Hixenbaugh, said the district did not place the teacher on leave but has taken steps to ensure no contact between the student and the teacher. Like EACS, the district has a no-corporal-punishment policy, but Hixenbaugh said each case is handled on an individual basis.

That district is cooperating with law enforcement while conducting its own investigation. “In general, the outcome of a law enforcement investigation is separate from the corporation,” Hixenbaugh said.

Green said EACS will determine its actions when the Fort Wayne Police investigation is over.

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