Birthday spankings from the elementary school principal are inappropriate, some parents say.
Several others, including the superintendent of a tiny school district in North Texas, say they don't have a problem with their kids being on the receiving end of good-natured swats on the rear.
But that same school superintendent now says the practice has been ended at Alvord Elementary School in Alvord, Texas, about 50 miles northwest of Fort Worth.
"To my knowledge Alvord ISD has received three complaints about the tradition of birthday spankings at our elementary school," Randy Brown, Alvord ISD superintendent, said in a statement. "I have talked to many other parents who don't have any concern with the practice. I myself have a child attending school at Alvord Elementary and I personally don't have any issue with it. The birthday spankings are of course not actual spankings; they are a traditional celebrations of a child's birthday. The campus principal decided on her own accord to discontinue the tradition of birthday spankings."
But that statement came about two weeks after the elementary school principal, Bridget Williams, sent a letter home to parents saying that moving forward, if a child or parents did not want Williams to give the child a birthday spanking, they could opt out of that form of celebration by sending Williams a handwritten note to that effect.
That letter went out to parents on April 25.
KTVT reported that Williams started the practice at Alvord Elementary eight years ago. According to Brown's statement, Williams will continue celebrating students' birthdays with high-fives or hugs.
"I support the principal's decision and agree with her that we have issues much more important to focus on than this one," Brown said.
Principals' birthday spankings were more prevalent when those belonging to Generation X were in elementary school, but one parent told KTVT that there might also be a rural vs. urban dynamic to some people being turned off by the practice.
"They're not used to a small town community," Heather Redder told the station in defense of the playful spankings. "And that's what we are ... People that move here from the big city, they don't realize, and they're not used to this."
Alvord had an estimated population of 1,434 in 2016, according to the U.S. Census.