A lawsuit filed last week alleges that multiple coaches at Warren Easton (La.) High School hit a football player with a paddle in violation of the law.
According to the news website The Lens, the suit was filed in Orleans Parish Civil District Court last week by anonymous plaintiffs — a mother and son. It names four football coaches, two teachers, the school principal and the school’s nonprofit charter management organization as defendants.
The suit alleges that the son, a freshman on the football team at the time of the alleged incidents, was hit with a paddle by four football coaches on at least eight separate occasions, causing him “great physical, emotional and mental distress,” and ultimately leading him to quit the football team and transfer to another high school. The suit claims that the coaches even had a name for the paddle: “Big Freedia.”
The suit says that the paddling began in August 2018 during a football practice. Coaches allegedly told players not to “snitch” to their parents about being paddled.
David Garland, president of the school’s governing charter board, told The Lens that the allegations were investigated and found to be unsubstantiated.
“Our investigation did not uncover any evidence of the alleged event,” Garland told The Lens.
School governing authorities may actually adopt their own policies regarding corporal punishment in Louisiana — meaning that in some cases, paddling and other such means of physical punishment may actually be legal in the state. However, the body responsible for overseeing Warren Easton “prohibit[s] the use of any form of corporal punishment in any public school, program or activity under its jurisdiction, including direct operated or charter schools.”
In addition to the claims made against the coaches, the suit alleges that two teachers referred the student to coaches for punishment in violation of the policy. It also alleges that several employees at the school failed to meet their legal obligations under mandatory reporting requirements, though Garland disputes this.
“To our knowledge all mandatory reporting requirements were followed and are included in our standard protocol,” Garland wrote in an email to The Lens.