Danie M. Huffman
Austin Carpenter, 12, joined football because he liked the sport.
His views have been altered however, after the alleged paddling his coach gave him when he supposedly wore the wrong shorts to practice.
Austin’s father, Brad Carpenter, said the Springtown Middle School student was paddled so hard, that a large bruise was left on the back of his right thigh.
His son told him during the first week of school, the coach told the team to follow directions because he was a “mean son-of-a-b****.”
The paddling incident ocurred Sept. 7. The following day, Austin said a teammate was paddled as a disciplinary action.
According to Brad Carpenter, the very next week the coach checked each team member’s shorts to make sure the number marked on the tag matched their locker number.
He said Austin’s shorts had #42 written on the tag with a line crossing it out. The #44 was written just above the other number. He added the school recycles the shorts from year-to-year, saving them for future students.
Carpenter also said the coach did not check the opposite side of the tag, which did have the #88, Austin’s number, written on it.
Carpenter said his son was confused as to why the coach pulled him aside with nine other boys.
Shelly Carpenter, Austin’s mother, said the remainder of the team was excused and all 10 boys in Austin’s group got into trouble, but not all of the boys received corporal punishment as her son did.
“He missed his bottom,” Brad Carpenter said about the large bruise on his son’s thigh. “The number was on the tag, the coach just didn’t see. He told the kids ‘when your shorts don’t match, I’m assuming you’re stealing.’”
In a meeting with the principal and three coaches, Carpenter was told the students were punished because they couldn’t keep up with their shorts.
“My son didn’t have the wrong shorts,” he said. “Even if he did have the wrong shorts, that wouldn’t be a paddling offense. The last one you would want to put a paddle in their hand is a mad coach.”
Carpenter added if the coach had a disciplinary problem with Austin, he should have sent him to the principal, who would be disengaged from the problem.
“I’ve got no problem with paddling if it’s the right situation and the right circumstances, Carpenter said. “My son wasn’t the first one to be paddled and he wasn’t the last one. To me, that’s excessive use of a paddle. I’ve been a little league baseball assistant coached for 10 years, and I’ve never had to get physical with any kids in the dugout.”
He claims his son has had no other disciplinary problems prior to the incident.
“He attends some advanced placement classes. He’s on the student council, in the puppet ministry and band,” he said. “He’s not a trouble child.”
Carpenter admits Austin was paddled two years ago as a disciplinary action and he was not against it.
“I do believe in corporal punishment by the right people done in the right way for the right reasons,” he said. “We tried three times handling this locally with the coaches and principal. They didn’t understand.”
Brad Carpenter siad the coach who paddled Austin did apologize a week after the incident, but not until the Carpenter’s requested he do so.
“The school had two choices,” Carpenter said. “They could have gathered to protect my son and instead they chose to gather around the coaches and protect them.”
Sept. 11, Austin’s parents met with the coaches and the Springtown Middle School principal. He said the matter was not resolved in that meeting.
The Carpenter’s decided to take the issue before the Springtown ISD school board at the regular scheduled meeting Sept. 24.
During that meeting, Brad Carpenter was told he would need to bring it up in a closed session. Although he e-mailed a request to speak publicly at the meeting during the open forum, he said he was refused the right.
“They said if you show us any pictures, we’re not going to take action on this,” Carpenter said speaking of what board members told him. “They said they couldn’t discuss it because the coaches were not there with representation.
The next day, news media began contacting the Carpenter’s about the story.
“This wasn’t something we threw in front of the media for personal gain, all we wanted was to get the issue brought to the board’s attention,” Carpenter said. “We never contacted any media outlet.”
Springtown Police Chief Mark Krey said in a television broadcast interview that although Austin was bruised, the coach would not have criminal charges brought against him because it was not severe enough. Krey could not be reached Wednesday for comment.
Springtown ISD Superintendent Lonnie Seipp said he would not release the coach’s name.
“We’ve got a parent complaint,” Seipp said. “We just need time to do our job and get the issue resolved. Our policies clearly provide the procedures to address any issues that come up in front of us. We’re in the middle of working with this one. I’m really kind of happy to see that the system works. We have corporal punishment. We use a variety of techniques. It’s certainly way on down the list of things we try to use. Are we using it every day? I don’t think so. Compared to when I was in school, we use it rarely.”
Seipp said he could not discuss Austin’s prior behavior, but was not aware of him having a prior uniform problem.
“Student records are protected information,” he said.
Carpenter said the principal did take action by telling the coaches they may no longer administer corporal punishment, but to refer matters to office staff.
“We didn’t want any more hasty paddlings by coaches,” Carpenter said. “We didn’t want any more kids getting bruised. We wanted the coaches to rethink why they took these jobs in the first place. We wanted to tell the board our story—what happened. Not the watered-down version. That was it. That was all we wanted to do.”
A Springtown ISD press release stated in the student code of conduct, parents are not required to be notified in cases similar to Austin’s.
“Typically corporal punishment is administered after the parents have been contacted,” the release stated. “Currently policy allows parents to submit requests that their child not receive corporal punishment. Those requests are filed in the campus administrative offices.”
Seipp said in the release that he was “proud that the system worked in this particular case. The parents raised an issue, the principal involved heard the issue and then took the appropriate actions to address the issue...This is not the first issue or complaint, nor will it be the last.”
Austin no longer plays for the school’s football team. His father said in a news broadcast partly because of this and partly because he is involved in other activities.