When the parents of two Oklahoma elementary school students heard their sons were fighting, they gave permission for the school to use corporal punishment.
The two boys, ages 10 and 11, were disciplined by the principal of Indianola Public Schools, 50-year-old Gary L. Gunckel, on September 6, The Duncan Banner reports.
He hit the boys with a wooden paddle and told the parents it was “standard punishment.”
But the evening after the punishment, one of the boys started complaining to his mother that his buttocks hurt after getting out of the shower.
That’s when the mom noticed welts and bruising on her son. She then spoke with the other boy’s mother, who noticed bruising on her son as well.
One of the mother’s contacted Indianola Public Schools Superintendent Adam Newman, who later called her with Gunckel.
The principal apologized for “busting the boys” and said he disciplined the children like “high school students.”
The parents then filed a police report on September 8, People reports.
One of the mothers told police that her son fell down after the first swat, so Gunckel “gave him the other two swats and explained that they were supposed to hurt so that he would remember not to do what he was doing anymore.”
Gunckel has now been charged with two felony counts of child abuse by injury. In a statement to People, he said:
“I am completely innocent of all charges and I’m looking forward to proving that in court.”
District Attorney Chuck Sullivan said that the parents opted for the corporal punishment over several days of suspension.
He told People:
“The parents of the boys noticed injuries that were rather excessive for what one would expect from a swat paddling, and they became concerned and so they had law enforcement investigate it. We reviewed it, and felt that this was an appropriate charge for the evidence we had.”
Corporal punishment is only allowed in certain public school districts within Oklahoma and always requires parental permission. Schools in other states are also reinstating the disciplinary practice.
A Georgia school made headlines earlier this month when they announced that they would use wooden paddles on students, Dearly reported.
Gunckel has pleaded not guilty to the charges against him.