Arrest of high school principal renews debate over corporal punishment in Texas

In Texas, where the education code allows schools to use corporal punishment as a means of student discipline, a public school principal in Overton has been arrested in connection to paddling a teenage student.

Jeffery Darryl Hogg, the principal at Overton High School, was arrested on one count of assault causing bodily injury after spanking a student with a wooden paddle.

An arrest affidavit obtained by media outlets detailed the incident.

A Rusk County Sheriff’s Office deputy described the incident in which Hogg struck the student as punishment and “hit her with such force that she had bruising at least 48 hours after the paddling.”

Details of the paddling reported in the affidavit state that the girl’s mother was present in the room at the time of the incident, but documents do not say why the student was being punished.

Texas allows corporal punishment to be used by a district educator and is only prohibited if a student’s parent has given written, signed statements on the method of student discipline.

The affidavit reveals that the mother had given the school permission to utilize corporal punishment as means of discipline, which included three strikes “on the butt.”

The deputy reports in the affidavit that the student told the principal after the second strike that she did not want to be hit anymore and that “the second hit was harder than the first hit and she had never hurt like that.”

Hogg reportedly told the girl that “it would be a shame to have to go to (on-school suspension) when she only had one lick left.”

The female student then took photos throughout the day of the bruises incurred from the paddling.

At a local Child Advocacy Center the next day, the student was examined by nurses who noted “substantial bruising, swelling and heat” where the paddling had occurred.

According to the affidavit, photos were taken and sent for evaluation to a pediatrician, who told the reporting deputies that “physical punishment that results in injuries that last longer than 24 hours is consistent with child physical abuse.”

USA Today reported that a Rusk County jail spokesperson confirmed Hogg was booked into jail and posted bond and has not been formally charged with a crime.

During the 88th Legislative Session, House Bill 772 was proposed in an attempt to prohibit public school employees from being able to use corporal punishment as a form of discipline on students. The bill was voted down.

Prior to the vote, the American Academy of Pediatrics issued a statement to “renew” its effort to end the practice of corporal punishment in schools. The statement read that corporal punishment is “ineffective as a disciplinary tool, often leads to worse behavior and causes harm to children.”

Floor arguments in favor of corporal punishment were proffered by Reps. Steve Toth (R-The Woodlands) and Matt Schaefer (R-Tyler).

Toth argued that “kids do need to fear leadership … and so I ask respectfully that we adhere to that in our schools.” Schaefer made his appeal on a religious basis, saying that “we will be wise members to follow the design that God has for discipling children.”

According to the Intercultural Development Research Association, data from 2017-2018 shows that 1,165 schools in Texas reported using corporal punishment. Male students overwhelmingly account for those subjected to corporal punishment at 82.4 percent of cases.

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