Springtown takes step backward

SPRINGTOWN -- Nothing ever changes in Springtown.

When it does, they change it right back.

For more than a year, Springtown school trustees had taken the bold, mid-1960s step of barring middle-aged men from administering the schoolhouse paddle to little girls.

But the men didn't like that rule.

So now, in what Springtown considers progress, men can paddle girls again if a woman stands by.

Call it Springtown's own little War on Women. Two mothers were belittled as whiners this week for raising valid complaints after a 49-year-old male assistant principal paddled their daughters, even though that was an obvious violation of the district's year-old corporal punishment rule.

If you didn't care that a man was paddling a 95-pound girls cross-country runner in wind shorts -- for a cheating case against a different girl -- then consider the other case brought to school trustees Monday night.

For walking across art posters spread across a classroom floor, Cathi Watt's daughter was not only paddled by a man.

He also brought in a second man to watch.

Jada Watt left with more than just bruises and humiliation.

Springtown Police Chief Ed Crowdis confirmed Tuesday that a city police officer watched her get paddled.

Then he gave her a ticket.

Afterward, the vice principal asked the officer to issue a citation accusing the girl of the Class C misdemeanor juvenile charge of "disruption."

Cathi Watt's comment to WFAA/Channel 8 summed it up well.

"Two men giving her a swat behind closed doors," Watt said.

"That is creepy."

School trustees must have agreed. Sort of.

They changed the policy to allow the vice principal to go back to paddling high school girls, but only in front of a woman, and only with a parent's OK.

Both boys and girls will be paddled no more than once each semester.

If it's that complicated, why bother?

Superintendent Michael Kelley told reporters that Springtown parents want paddling offered as an optional "service."

The Reuters news agency quoted him as saying parents "call up" principals and ask, "Why don't you just give 'em a swat?"

Oh -- did I mention that Springtown High School's fall play is Greater Tuna?

Bud Kennedy's column appears Sundays, Wednesdays and Fridays. 817-390-7538

Twitter: @budkennedy

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