March 21, 2011

For the past 60 years, teachers and administrators at St. Augustine High School in New Orleans have wielded an 18-inch-long wooden paddle to administer corporal punishment to students for tardiness, sloppy uniform dress or other minor rules infractions.

When Archbishop Gregory Aymond and Josephite Father Edward Chiffriller, head of the school's board of trustees, ordered the practice stopped following an intensive review process, their decision was met with outspoken opposition from parents, alumni, students, the school's board of directors, and both current and former administrators.

That disagreement played out during a three-hour, 50-minute "disciplinary town-hall meeting" Feb. 24 at the St. Augustine gym.

About 600 people attended.

Speaker after speaker passionately explained why they supported the use of corporal punishment.

St. Augustine is the only Catholic school in the United States to have permitted corporal punishment as recently as 2010.