LEADERS IN TENNESSEE


The following school systems have replaced corporal punishment with a variety of disciplinary strategies that foster safe and orderly schools and improve school climate. They are leaders in our state and deserve to be recognized. You may read about the progress that some of these school systems are making. The process of collecting information about school systems such as these is ongoing. If your system is also a leader, but is not included here, please contact us.

Alcoa City Schools Bells City School District Blount County Schools
Carroll County Schools Clinton City Schools Elizabethton City Schools
Fayette County Schools Franklin Special District Greenville City Schools
Hamblen County Schools Knox County Schools Lenoir City Schools
Maryville City Schools Memphis City Schools
Murfreesboro City Schools Nashville/Davidson County Schools Oak Ridge Schools
Oneida Special Schools Roane County Schools Rogersville City Schools
Stewart County Schools Union County Schools Williamson County Schools
Tennessee Pre-K Public School Program Head Start


Blount County Schools operates 18 schools: 11 elementary, three middle schools, two comprehensive secondary schools, one alternative school and one adult high school. The school system consists of approximately 11,000 students. Blount County Schools has received the state Department of Education's Governor's A+ Award for commitment to excellence in education.

The Blount County Board of Education banned corporal punishment in their system in June of 1999. To view the Bount County Board of Education Policy click: Prohibition of Corporal Punishment - Policy # 6.314 - Issued 06/02/99.

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Franklin Special School District in Williamson County, is located just 14 miles south of Nashville. Franklin has made a place for itself on the map as a city that excels in blending the traditional with the modern. Named the "Number One Small Town in Tennessee," Franklin is an excellent place to work, live, raise children, or simply enjoy the history of a city that appreciates its beginnings.

Franklin Special School District is a K-8 school system with approximately 3,750 students enrolled. The students are served by seven schools: four elementary schools, one intermediate school, one middle school, and a balanced calendar K-8 school. The FSSD Board of Education has proudly committed itself to meeting and/or exceeding the State's teacher-pupil ratio requirements, with ratios at: 1 to 20 in kindergarten through third grade, 1 to 22 in fourth grade, and 1 to 25 in grades 5-8.

FSSD Board of Education was one of the first in the state to adopt a policy banning the use of corporal punishment in their schools. To view this policy which was adopted May 12, 1988, go to: Prohibition of Corporal Punishment - Policy # 6.314 - Issued 05/12/88.

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Greeneville City School District is made up of seven schools that serve approximately 2700 students. The Board of Education adopted a policy prohibiting corporal punishment in September of 1993. To view the policy go to: Prohibition of Corporal Punishment - Policy # 6.314 - Issued 09/23/93.

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The Knox County School District realized the importance of phasing out corporal punishment in the early seventies. Walter Mencer, Administrative Assistant to the Director of Schools, remembers that he was a teacher then. He had paddled children and he says it made the child feel angry and it also made him feel angry for having to do it. His experience has been that there are a lot of more positive and more effective ways to discipline kids. He found that, "Sitting down and talking about problems and coming to an agreement about what they can do to correct the problem is much more effective."

He describes a process of problem solving that many teachers and principals now use throughout the system. Knox County Schools serve approximately 53,000 students. They have 54 Elementary, 14 Middle and 13 High schools.

The school system uses detention, in-school and out of school suspension. In the elementary schools a program called P.A.C., Personal Accountability Class, has been successful. It is similar to in-school suspension, but usually the time students spend there is limited to 30-60 minutes. During this time, they receive counseling and are given an opportunity to communicate and do problem solving related to the behavior that brought them there.

Knox County Schools also practice conflict resolution and peer mediation in the middle and high schools. "We are always looking for ways to discipline that are in the best interest of the kids," says Mr. Mencer.

Knox County Schools are experiencing improvements in a lot of areas. They have several schools that are operating on the "full-service schools" model developed by the University of Tennessee. Parental involvement is also high with very active Parent-Teacher Associations in the majority of schools. The P.T.A. has been instrumental in bringing about the system's move away from corporal punishment.

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The Lenoir City School District in Loudon County has 1 elemetary school K-5, a middle school 6-8, and a high school. They enroll approximately 2100 students. The Board of Education adopted a policy prohibiting corporal punishment in 1994. The policy may be viewed at Lenoir City Schools Board Policy #6.314 - Prohibition of Corporal Punishment.

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The Maryville School System in Blount County consists of four elementary schools, one middle school, and one high school. The school system has not used corporal punishment in any of the schools for the past 15-20 years.

The school system advocates a number of discipline alternatives: Tribes program, conflict resolution and counseling and support programs for at risk children.

In 1998, the Elementary Task Force selected the Tribes program as one of seven programs in the system that has the greatest possibility of improving instruction.

The objectives of the Tribes program are: creating a safer and even more caring school environment; showing more respect for individual differences and diversity of cultures; teaching students to become more responsible for themselves, their learning, and each other; discovering how to educate all students for success in the 21st Century; more actively involving families in the education of their children; and awakening a love of learning in everyone.

Since 1989, Maryville Schools have ranked in the top eight of 139 school systems in the state in TCAP scores and consistently rank among the top in other assessments of academic competency.

The system communicates directly with parents on a regular basis in the form of newsletters which are mailed directly to all parents. In 1998, the goal of Sam Houston Elementary School was to involve every adult and child in community service. More information about Maryville Schools can be found at www.ci.maryville.tn.us/schools/index.htm

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Memphis City School District is the largest school system in the State of Tennessee and the 21st largest school system in the nation. It serves more than 119,000 students among 191 schools in grades K-12. Approximately 87 percent of MCS students are black, 9% are white, and 4% represent other nationalities. Approximately 71 percent of MCS students are eligible for free or reduced lunch.

On November 22, 2004, The Memphis City School Board of Education approved a resolution to ban corporal punishment in Memphis City Schools following years of debate inspired by Board member Lora Jobe. National pressure from African-American leaders and national organizations opposed to corporal punishment was also instrumental in effecting the change. Resolution on Corporal Punishment-Memphis City Schools

In the Fall of 2005, Memphis City School District teachers, principals and students returned to school with a new policy in effect banning the use of corporal punishment. Wooddale principal Tammie Nielsen relates, "I hear some anxiety about heading into our first school year without corporal punishment. But I'm confident that change will be a good one; I've previously worked only in school systems that didn't use corporal punishment and I've seen incredibly successful schools that focus on positive behavior intervention systems. A team of teachers from Wooddale participated in the training for Memphis City Schools' Blue Ribbon Plan behavior initiative, and they're committed to creating our school's new behavior plan."

Sandra Johnson, a counselor at Westhaven Elementary reports, "Last year we probably had 20 fights, this year we've had only two fights." Westhaven is now celebrating 30 days without a fight and treated those who behaved with a block party and prizes. Johnson says school leaders, teachers and parents cannot only see the difference, they can hear it, "Their comments are, it's so quiet here, you know learning is going on in the building. Little changes making big differences and changing what students know as the four R's."

Figures comparing the first 20 days of the new school year to last school year in Memphis City Schools were encouraging. Fights decreased 40 percent; officer referrals dropped 34 percent; and district suspensions decreased 57 percent. The Blue Ribbon Plan is the new standard for discipline.

When asked about the positive changes in Memphis City Schools Denise Johnson, the district's Blue Ribbon Plan coordinator, said, "I think it's probably due to a more conscious effort on the part of teachers, administrators, and the support teams at the schools to be more proactive in dealing with the kids. In other words, letting students know what the expectations are and recognizing when students are doing well. What we're trying to do is get people to think differently about dealing with children. In the past, our way of trying to do that was to put out the bad kids, just put out those kids who won't do what you want them to do, but we can't afford to do that. They're part of our citizenry and our community."

For in depth information on the Blue Ribbon Initiative being implemented by Memphis City Schools go to MCS Blue Ribbon Plan

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Murfreesboro City Schools adopted an official policy prohibiting the use of corporal punishment in their schools in February 2001. This decision came after a suggestion by a board member to evaluate the policy and upon the advice of Director of Schools Marilyn Mathis.

The Murfreesboro system consists of 10 schools, grades K-6. During the 1999-2000 school year, 33 students received corporal punishment. Director Mathis felt that the change in the policy was in keeping with the system's mission statement to bring children academic and personal success. "We use a variety of positive and preventative discipline techniques along with parent conferences and counseling."

The staff development opportunities offered this past year in Murfreesboro City Schools were: Peaceful Schools sponsored by the Tennessee Bar Association; 1-2-3 Discipline by Jennifer Hall; Dealing with the Angry Child by Dr. Gloria Hamilton; Educational Assistance Tips for Survival by Pat Schaefer; and a presentation by nationally known discipline expert David Walker. " In addition to these presentations, principals have instituted "Character Education" in the schools and constantly discuss positive ways to approach discipline," says Director Mathis.

Murfreesboro schools are also very proactive in providing extended learning opportunities for children with after school programs. They were awarded a sizable federal grant to provide these services.

Lou Nuell, Murfreesboro BOE member stated, "All research we've seen really does not support the notion for paddling, so it's just time to move on and do something else."

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Nashville/Davidson County Schools is staffed with dedicated professionals who are helping nearly 73,000 students prepare for the future. The system consists of 71 elementary schools, 36 middle schools and 15 high schools.

The Board of Education voted unanimously to end paddling in Metro schools on January 9, 2002.

Director of Schools Pedro Garcia along with other school officials of the Metro School System in Nashville agree that paddling sends mixed messages. Students, who learn to respect one another in school and to resolve their differences nonviolently are themselves subject to a practice many consider humiliating and violent.

Following the Board of Education's directive, a committee was formed to search for and recommend alternatives to corporal punishment. These recommendations included increased staff development in classroom management techniques, parental training classes, replacing in-school suspension teachers with certified behavioral specialists and the use of proven preventative discipline programs.

Tennesseans for Non-violent School Discipline has had an active presence in the Nashville area since it was founded in 1989. Terry Kopansky, founder & president of the organization said, "It's been a long time coming. It keeps with what virtually all education and psychology, legal and medical organizations across the country have advocated. It's an important step."

Kopansky attributes the ban in Nashville to new super-intendent Pedro Garcia, who joined the school system last June after seven years as superintendent of a system in California.

Director of Schools Garcia says, "I just think there are other means to discipline students than hitting them."

Metro Nashville Public Schools received 2004-2005 TCAP results- it was the most dramatic single-year increase since 1990. In addition to MNPS students scoring higher in the proficient or advanced categories, the number of students rated "below proficient" decreased in all four categories.

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Oak Ridge City School District is made up of four elementary schools, (K - 4), two middle schools (5 - 8), and one senior high school (9 - 12). The school system also maintains a preschool program for children ages three to five years, a before and after school extended child care program (for preschool, elementary and middle school students), a vocational program, and an adult education program. All seven schools are accredited by SACS. The system serves over 4,700 students and employs 334 teachers.

Oak Ridge public schools are often cited as among the nation's best. The Wall Street Journal's Offspring magazine listed Oak Ridge schools among the top 100, in the country and number two in the South in 2000. Expansion Management magazine, urging companies to look at a community's schools to determine the quality of the workforce, ranked Oak Ridge schools among the top performing systems in the nation for six straight years. Newsweek, in the summer of 2003, ranked Oak Ridge High School among the top 250 of 700 ranked high schools based on the number of graduating seniors taking Advanced Placement courses.

In the 2002-03 school year, 150 students, or nearly half the senior class, received special awards and scholarships with a monetary value estimated in excess of $3.4 million. High school students' scores on ACT and SAT tests have consistently exceeded national and state averages. Scores on Tennessee's TCAP Exams for the two middle schools and the four elementary schools are among the highest in the state. Teachers are well trained, with more than 70 percent of almost 400 teachers and administrators holding a Master's or higher degree.

Board of Education policy officially prohibits the use of corporal punishment in all of its schools. The following is an excerpt from Board Policy - Section III - 26 - Control of Pupil Conduct and Discipline:

"Teachers and administrators are authorized to take just and reasonable measures to establish effective school discipline and to develop in pupils self-disciplined, emotionally mature behavior. The authority to control pupil conduct shall extend to school buses and all activities of the school, including all games and performances of athletic teams and other school groups. Discipline guidelines shall be developed in writing and distributed to all students.

Disciplinary measures may be taken to control the behavior of pupils not meeting the accepted norms of school behavior and to prevent individual pupils from disturbing school activities of others. The significance of both reward and punishment in this process shall be recognized. The damage to personality resulting from such punishment as ridicule, sarcasm and embarrassment shall be taken into account by staff members.

Individual teacher-pupil conferences, in-school and out-of-school suspensions--requiring parents to come to school for a conference, brief isolation within the classroom or other area designated by the principal, after-school detention, restriction from participation in school events and activities, and dismissal to care of parents may be included among means for establishing effective school discipline. There shall be no corporal punishment in the Oak Ridge School System."

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Roane County Schools adopted Board Policy # 3.23 on January 20, 2000. This policy states: Corporal punishment, which is defined as physically handling a student in any way to inflict punishment, shall not be administered to any student. To view the policy on-line visit: www.roaneschools.com/media/schoolboard/policy/section3/3.23.pdf

Roane County schools have been striving to bring about positive change in their system. They have used the Peacable Schools program—a conflict mediation program available through the Tennessee Department of Education. They are also implementing the School-Wide Positive Behavior Support (PBS) initiative.

The program focuses on proactive and preventative discipline. Teachers, staff and administrators model the behaviors that they want the students to demonstrate. Training is key and implementing the program with integrity and no shortcuts is the goal for Roane County.

“We have already seen a decrease in the suspension rate at Rockwood High School this year,” says Jody McCloud, the district's PBS coordinator. “It takes about three to five years to really implement the program.”

Some of the issues being addressed include being on time for class, behavior in the cafeteria, on the bus and in the hallways, and being responsible and respectful.

Roane County is also organizing a “Freshman Academy” at Roane County High School designed to improve the success rate of at-risk students.

For more information about School-wide PBS and Peacable schools, see the Discipline Alternatives section of our web-site.

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Rogersville City Schools adopted Board Policy #6.314 on August 17, 1995. This policy states: Corporal punishment will not be used as a disciplinary measure in any school. The director of schools shall be responsible for developing and implementing in-service training programs for teachers and staff in the use of alternative, positive measures of discipline.

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Stewart County Schools

Located in the Northwest corner of Middle Tennessee, Stewart Co. serves approximately 2100 students. The district has a policy that allows corporal punishment, but they have not used it for the past 10-12 years and started moving away from paddling in 1988.

"We tell our teachers that if they use corporal punishment they are putting their career and assets in jeopardy," says Dr. Wallace, who has been director for 14 years. "We still have parents who ask us to use it, but I tell them we just don't do that. The benefits just aren't worth the risks."

Bill Austin, Tech coordinator, has been with the school system for 30 years and has served in various capacities including both principal and teacher. Austin says, "The first rule of behavior modification is that a negative response will stop a behavior. If you are going to change a behavior, you're going to have to do something positive."

Lee Canter's Assertive Discipline Model, Character Education, and LRE (Law-Related Education) programs are used in Stewart County schools. Dr. Wallace says, "These school-wide programs provide consistency of discipline from one classroom to another. These methods emphasize the positive behavior of students and promote high expectations for the students conduct. We use tickets for students when we catch them doing something good and the student can redeem them for prizes, awards, special treats and activities. Communication and cooperation with parents is a critical part of any school-wide discipline plan."

LRE helps youth become effective, law-abiding citizens by promoting civic responsibility and community participation. It increases young people's self-esteem and promotes a more favorable attitude toward authority figures. (www.tba.org/tncivics)

Both Wallace and Austin have used CP in their past experience, but say times have changed. Dr. Wallace says, "I do not know any other American Institutions, other than some schools and perhaps some prisons for Terrorists and enemies of the state, that use physical pain as a strategy for maintaining discipline and order to the organization."

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Williamson County Schools are experiencing a population explosion. They are growing by approximately 900 students per year. Yet among the chaos that such growth can bring, the school system has officially said no to corporal punishment in the schools.

In 1994, the school board revised that corporal punishment policy to include the following provisions:

On April 16, 2001, The Williamson County Board of Education officially banned corporal punishment. Policy # 6.314 states: Corporal punishment may be defined as physical contact and is distinguished from a reprimand, a suspension or an expulsion. Corporal punishment shall not be administered as a method of correcting inappropriate behavior in Williamson County Schools.

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This information compiled and published by Tennesseans for Nonviolent School Disicpline - www.forkidsake.org