School board member wants corporal punishment back in Marion Co. schools

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MARION COUNTY, Fla. - The newest member of the Marion County school board, who's also a former principal, wants to bring the punishment of paddling back to elementary schools.

Corporal punishment was banned in the district two years ago, but school board member-elect Carol Ely is not the only supporter of its return.

WFTV's Melonie Holt talked with Ely and some parents about the punishment.

"I'd rather them paddle my child and send them back to class than suspend them from school. As a Christian, I believe with the biblical standard of 'spare the rod and spoil the child,'" said parent Kerri Lanier.

Ely told WFTV in her nearly four decades as an educator, she found corporal punishment worked.

"It was very effective, and it's an alternative to children staying home from school and missing school. And it's only for the most severe behavior issues," said Ely.

"I would second Ms. Ely's motion if she chose to make that motion," said school board member-elect Nancy Stacy.

Stacy also begins her work with the school board in November.

"I think it's a lot more abusive to allow a child to fail when we do have that option that we could use. It's not going to be widely used; it's a last resort," said Stacy.

Even if the district decided to lift the ban on paddling, which was instated because of concerns over possible lawsuits, parents would have to give their permission for the punishment.

"Definitely not. I feel that is something that should be done in the home," said parent Miranda Banks.

But it may still be awhile before parents like Banks need to make their opinions known.

With $52 million cut from Marion County schools in just the past five years, the new school board will have plenty of other pressing issues.

The earliest the Marion County school board would take up the subject of corporal punishment would be December or January, when the board usually reviews the student code of conduct.