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Unified School Board delays corporal punishment issue, allows cell phones

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (FOX13) -

The unified school board tackled a number of policy issues Tuesday night.

The biggest hot button issue is corporal punishment. Right now Memphis City Schools does not allow corporal punishment but Shelby County does.

The recommendation for the unified school board is not to allow corporal punishment. But several board members said they could not support a no corporal punishment policy.

School Board Member Joe Clayton said, "The Shelby County Schools have a policy that's currently in place until we repeal it, but that policy has been very effective."

But, Board Attorney Valerie Speakman said, "The concern of the office of civil rights is that more African American children are punished, and it's not just corporal punishment, it's suspensions and expulsions, too."


"For those board members to ask for data, I think they're simply looking for, is there anything to show that there is conclusive evidence to say corporal punishment works or corporal punishment doesn't work. As far as exactly what those board members are actually looking for, I'm not sure, but as I stated, the research is inconclusive," said board member Kevin Woods.

The superintendent asked to hold off on a vote to bring more research and information to next week's meeting. The board voted to postpone a decision on corporal punishment.

Board members, however, did vote to allow cells phones at school. The policy will state that cell phones must be turned off and stored away from students, either in lockers or cars, for example.

If caught with the devices, the phones will be confiscated and returned to parents/guardians the next school day. If there are repeat offenses, students can face disciplinary action.

Before adjourning the meeting, board members voted to approve the resolution revising the general fund budget for the next fiscal year. The vote was 17-1 in favor of using $12 million from reserves.

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