Paddling under investigation

Police won't take any action, defering to school board

By Marti Davis

Loudon Police Chief James "Bear" Webb said his officers won't further investigate the principal who paddled an unruly 11-year-old after obtaining his grandmother's permission.

The grandmother has lodged an official complaint with the police that the principal used "excessive force."

A school resource officer who witnessed the paddling told the police chief, "I've had worse spankings myself," Webb said Tuesday. "We're not taking any action. We took a report so it'd be a matter of public record."

Webb said he considers the complaint a "school board matter."

Loudon County School Superintendent Edward Headlee said he is investigating the allegations made by the boy's grandmother. She reported the boy's buttocks were bruised so badly that she took her grandson to a pediatrician, who made a medical report and took a photograph of the child's bruises.

Headlee said he was out of the office Monday but met with Fort Loudoun Middle School Principal Steven Williams on Tuesday morning to discuss the allegations.

After her grandson was called to the office for discipline, the grandmother was given the choice of a three-day school suspension or a paddling for her grandson, the grandmother told a police officer.

"She advised the school to paddle him," said the report, which didn't detail the boy's misbehavior.

"When her grandson got home he had bruises on him from the paddling," the police report stated. "She then advised she thought this was unnecessary force," the report concluded.

Webb said he had not seen any photographs of the boy's injuries. Nor had Assistant District Attorney Frank Harvey, who said his office was not leading any investigation into the matter but had asked a police officer to provide answers to "a couple of questions."

Headlee said school board policy allows paddling with a witness present but added that all witnesses to the incident will be interviewed and the matter thoroughly investigated. The person in charge of investigating such matters was out of the office and not expected back until Thursday, he said.

The boy's grandmother has "educational custody" of her grandson, a legal device that allows him to attend Loudon County Schools although his parents, who have primary custody of him, live in another county, Headlee explained.

The superintendent added that Loudon County Schools has four or five pupils who take advantage of the educational custody law, which was passed by the Tennessee Legislature several years ago. Loudon County does not "knock on doors" to ensure that the children are actually living full time with the grandparents, though some school systems do, he added.

Excessive force paddling claim leads to Loudon principal investigation

6 News Reporter

LOUDON COUNTY (WATE) -- A middle school principal in Loudon County is under investigation after a grandmother claims he used excessive force to paddle her 11-year-old grandson.

The claims involve Fort Loudoun Middle School Principal Steven Williams.

The grandmother filed a police report saying Williams paddled her grandson hard enough to leave bruises. She had given permission for the boy to be paddled, rather than receive a three-day, out-of-school suspension.

Director of Schools Edward Headlee said he met with Loudon Police Chief James "Bear" Webb to discuss the case Tuesday morning.

The school system also met with Principal Williams about the allegations. He told the director he didn't think he handled this paddling differently from any other he's done.

The school findings have been turned over to the district attorney's office.

There's no decision yet on if or how Williams will be punished.

Headlee says the school system only allows paddling for male students with permission from their guardians.

Under state law, disciplinary actions like paddling must be done with another staff member in the room. Paddling must also be used humanely and in an objective manner.

Tennessee is among 21 states where it's legal to use corporal punishment in the classroom. However, it's a district by district decision whether to implement it.

Loudon principal investigated in alleged paddling of 11-year-old

Hugh G. Willet,

The Loudon County school system is investigating allegations of excessive force by a middle school principal after complaints from parents who say their 11-year-old boy was spanked.

Loudon Schools superintendent Edward Headlee said he met with Fort Loudoun middle school principal Steven Williams this morning to discuss the allegations.

Loudon Police Chief James "Bear" Webb said the boy's parents filed a police report Friday alleging that Williams used excessive force when he struck the child twice on the buttocks with a paddle. Webb said the issue was in the hands of the district attorney's office.

The child's mother said she took the boy to a Loudon pediatrician who made a medical report and took pictures of the child's bruises. The report and photos were taken to Headlee's office, she said.

According to the child's parents, Williams contacted the child's grandmother from school last Friday and offered the choice of a two-day suspension or corporal punishment. The child's grandmother confirmed she gave the principal permission to spank the child.

Headlee said Williams does offer the choice of corporal punishment in lieu of suspensions. The child's grandmother has custodial control over the child, he added.

He said the central office will continue to investigate the matter and that no determinations have yet been made about the appropriateness of Williams' paddling the boy.