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California school in hot water after student punishment

When you send your child off to school, you do so with the assumption that the teachers and administrators will do their best to provide your little one with a safe learning environment. After all, these years at school will influence your child for the rest of his or her life. Most of the time, schools live up to their lofty charge. Unfortunately, there are times when they overstep their bounds and disproportionately punish their students by suspending, expelling or disciplining them.

Such was the case at one California elementary school late last year. Some parents and education activists are upset after they say a principal forced fourth- and fifth-graders to do planking exercises outside on three consecutive hot California days as punishment. They also claim that the principal threatened the children with juvenile detention. 

The principal was punishing the children for being unruly in the lunchroom and said she was afraid of chaos, "a riot" and a "mob mentality and dangerous situation." She then sent out so-called "stay away" letters forbidding parents from coming to the school to complain, a measure that's typically reserved for extreme circumstances.

Several of the children developed burns from being forced to plank on the blazing blacktop for extended periods of time, and one got a blister from the activity.

A case like this one underlines a pertinent point: schools and the people who run them don't always do the right thing for the children. If you feel your child has been disproportionately disciplined at school, you may want to speak with an attorney who can advocate for you and your child.

Source:, "San Diego Unified: Incident At Horton Elementary Was Not Corporal Punishment," Megan Burks, December 28, 2016

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