I thought coaches weren’t allowed to hit his players?


1 Response to “I thought coaches weren’t allowed to hit his players?”

  1. November 3, 2010 at 7:22 PM

    Murrah High School boys basketball coach Marlon Dorsey, under fire for allegedly whipping players with a weightlifting belt as a form of punishment, acknowledges disciplining students.

    But Dorsey, who met with a Clarion-Ledger reporter on Sunday, wouldn’t discuss specifics. Instead, he provided a letter explaining why he “paddled” students and apologizing.

    “I took it upon myself to save these young men from the destruction of self and what society has accepted and become silent to the issues our students are facing on a daily basis,” the letter states. “I am deeply remorseful of my actions to help our students.”

    The letter, addressed to parents and others, said the punishment was issued for a variety of reasons, including disrespecting teachers, stealing cell phones, leaving campus without permission, being late for class and not following the dress code.

    Corporal punishment has been banned in Jackson Public Schools since 1991. Violation of the JPS corporal policy is punishable by disciplinary action up to suspension without pay and termination.

    Dorsey acknowledges he has been suspended with pay. He expects a decision today about his future with the school, where he is in his first year as coach and was an assistant coach last year. The team begins its season on Saturday at home against Greenville.

    Dorsey has the support of some parents, including Gary Love.

    “He has made them go to study hall, makes them turn in their homework and makes them give weekly reports of their school work,” said Love, whose son plays for the Mustangs. “It’s been all positive with one bad incident. He made a huge mistake, but he is human.

    “It was poor judgment, but he is an outstanding person, determined and driven to make those kids better. I think we all need to step back and give him his job back.”

    Other parents say they’re disappointed and angry. They say some of the players don’t want Dorsey to go.

    “It’s kind of tough,” said Jason Hubbard Sr., who heads the booster club. “Coach Dorsey did a lot of things to help our kids. We saw that in practice. Their work ethic was getting better in basketball. All around, he was grooming them.”

    But Dorsey’s actions threw a wrench into those efforts, Hubbard said. He saw players, including his son, get hit.

    “It was very forceful,” Hubbard said. “It wasn’t like a spanking, it was a whipping. There’s a difference.”

    In the past, Murrah boys basketball coaches punished players by having them run or do push-ups, said Hubbard, whose older son played at Murrah and is now a sophomore at Mississippi State University.

    “It was nothing physical, nothing. Nowhere near it, and I know that for a fact,” he said.

    Hailicia Francis, whose son, Daniel, is a senior on the team, said there has been psychological abuse of the players as well as physical. The players were too afraid to speak out because of fear they would not be allowed to play, she said.

    The situation is an extra burden on her son, who already survived an accident last year in which one of his teammates died and another was seriously injured, Francis said.

    Francis said her son was too intimated to tell either of his parents what was going on.

    Francis said her son had been whipped once with the belt, which weighs about 5 to 10 pounds, and he told Dorsey not to hit him again. Francis said she and her husband, Michael, don’t spank their children.

    “What hurts me so bad is you have intimidated my child so bad that he couldn’t come to either one of us … I entrusted this man with my child, and this is what you do to me,” she said.

    The Jackson school board has not discussed the matter.

    The superintendent handles the district’s day-to-day operations, said board President Kisiah Nolan. The board will support the superintendent, she said.

    “We’ll never condone anything inappropriate happening to the children,” Nolan said.

    Most of the state’s 152 school districts allow corporal punishment, but not JPS.

    The reported number of incidents is dropping.

    In the 2009-10 school year, there were 24,192 students involved in 46,586 incidents of corporal punishment, according to the state Department of Education. That’s down from the 58,343 cases in 2008-09 and 47,727 cases in 2007-08.

    Complaints about corporal punishment usually are made against districts that allow that type of discipline, said Nsombi Lambright, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Mississippi.

    Complaints usually are that the punishment is too severe, she said. Some parents complain they opted out of corporal punishment and their children were beaten anyway, Lambright said.

    Parents need to know the local school district’s policy on corporal punishment, Lambright said.

    “If they are in a school district that allows corporal punishment, they need to put in writing that they don’t want their child paddled,” she said.

    “If they’re in a district that doesn’t allow corporal punishment, like Jackson, they need to file charges against the teacher or administrator that caused the abuse,” she said. “And they should also file a complaint either with that principal or the superintendent of that school district.”

    In a case like the one in Jackson, leaders need to send a clear message that corporal punishment is not allowed, she said.

    Studies have shown corporal punishment doesn’t work, and most students disciplined that way are black or have special needs, Lambright said.

    “My understanding from my son is that some of the kids actually chose this as one of the punishments,” said Love. “It was something that they didn’t have a problem with it.”

    Love said he hopes the situation with Dorsey comes to a peaceful conclusion.

    “I know its going to be hard, but we are going to get past this,” Love said.

    To comment on this story, call Marquita Brown at (601) 961-7059 or Rod Walker at (601) 961-7298.

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