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Coach Hitting Students: Should Teacher be Fired?

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By Tanya Roth, Esq. on November 15, 2010 6:06 AM

A basketball coach in Jackson, Mississippi has been sued for using corporal punishment on his student athletes. Coach Marlon Dorsey has been disciplined, according to the school, for hitting students with a weightlifting belt when they failed to run basketball plays properly. Coach Dorsey has admitted to hitting the students and some of the punishment even took place while players parents were present. So why hasn't the coach been fired?

It is not necessarily as clear cut a case of abuse as it might seem. Many school districts in the state of Mississippi still permit the use of corporal punishment on students. In those schools, according to the Clarion Ledger, parents must have the opportunity to opt-out of allowing their children to be hit as punishment. In addition, under Mississippi law, the punishment must be used in a reasonable manner.

In the case of Coach Dorsey, the Jackson Public Schools have not permitted corporal punishment since 1991, reports the Clarion Ledger. So parents involved may have been doubly surprised to find out the coach was beating their children. It would be hard for a parent to "opt out" of a discipline that supposedly does not exist in their school.

Coach Marlon Dorsey said in a statement that he apologizes for his actions and emphasizes that he was trying to help his students, reported local news station WJTV. Coach Dorsey said, in part, "Following the recent developments pertaining to allegations, I paddled my students; I want to publicly apologize to the Murrah High School Parents, Jackson Public School District, Murrah High School and the City of Jackson ...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 lawsuit against the coach seeks not only damages, but the discipline of Coach Dorsey, presumably beyond the suspension he reportedly is now serving.

Still, some parents are taking Marlon Dorsey's side. "It's kind of tough," Jason Hubbard Sr., who heads the booster club, told the Clarion Ledger. "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."

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