Friday, June 3, 2011

St. Augustine's High School

New Orleans Archbishop Gregory Aymond's decision to ban corporal punishment at St. Augustine's High School generated a lot of controversy.  It even made its way to Facebook.

Corporal punishment is currently banned in all U.S. Catholic dioceses.  Why was Archbishop Aymond so concerned about paddling?  Some of the members of the St. Augustine community see it as a racial issue, where white people are telling black people how they can discipline children.  Let's take a look at a very brief clip, believed to be shot at St. Augustine's.

Some public schools, mostly in the South, still use paddling.  The paddle is not an idiot-proof device, and students have been injured.  Some of the public schools' handiwork is online at .

The New Orleans Archdiocese hired Monica Applewhite, a well-respected consultant, to prepare a report and recommendations about discipline policies at St. Augustine.  Applewhite reported that some parents and students had mentioned injuries and excessive paddling.  Some St. Augustine alumni responded by suing her.  Here's a link to one of the documents they filed:

Let's take a look at some of the claims the plaintiffs make.  In 2005, New Orleans was hit hard by Hurricane Katrina, one of the deadliest in the history of the U.S.  There were 1836 confirmed fatalities and over $80 billion in damages.  St. Augustine's was forced to temporarily close its doors.
But Katrina's devastation pales compared to the damages caused and now continually inflicted upon this venerable institution due to the defamatory statements by Monica Applewhite, which have been carelessly, recklessly published and then republished by the Archdiocese of New Orleans.
Let's get this straight.  These people believe that a consultant saying that she had heard complaints about paddling-related injuries at St. Augustine was of the same magnitude as Hurricane Katrina?

There's something really disturbing about the paragraph below:
The school administrators learned, unequivocally, no parent, student, or alumni ever stated to Applewhite or any member of the Disciplinary Review Committee that their son had been hospitalized due to corporal punishment at St. Augustine, nor did anyone report that their son had ever been paddled 5 or 6 times in one day.  Further, an independent consultant checked all state records of any reported abuse that would have been made by area hospitals, which are also mandatory reporters of abuse pursuant to the Louisiana Children's Code.  There were no reported cases by any area hospital of any St. Augustine student complaining of abuse by the school.  None.
Does this mean that conversations between Applewhite and students or parents were not confidential?  The claim that a school consultant was able to check all state records of abuse reported by a hospital and see if any of the cases mentioned a St. Augustine student is even more troubling.  Aren't both medical records and child abuse reports supposed to be confidential?

On June 1, Archbishop Aymond responded that he had also heard from students who'd been injured as a result of paddling.  Later that week. St. Augustine made the news again in connection with a case where a school employee was alleged to have taken a $20000 bribe in 2004 to involve the school in a scheme to defraud the federal government.  Instead of complaining about the damage to the "stellar reputation of the school," these alumni have been surprisingly quiet so far.


  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  2. return corporal punishment to the schools!
    The kids are bad these days

  3. because of lack of discipline