Tuesday, March 29, 2011
Hundreds protest archbishop’s stand against corporal punishment at school
They posted these demands on the locked door to the Walmsley Avenue office building: Retract statements linking St. Augustine students to violence; be transparent in investigating the punishment policy; and allow respective dialogue on the issue.
The archbishop "is trying to fix something that's not broken, and he's going about it in the wrong way," Jacob Washington, student body president at St. Augustine, said during Saturday's march.
"No parent was ever upset. No student was ever upset. No alum was ever upset," Disciplinarian Sterling Fleury said. "We just want to run our program the way it's been run for the past 60 years.'
Aymond has said corporal punishment institutionalizes violence, runs counter to both Catholic teaching and good educational practice, and violates local archdiocesan school policy. The Josephite trustees, who founded the school, imposed a temporary paddling ban last year, in circumvention of local school board wishes.
In a prepared statement, Aymond held his ground and prayed for a "peaceful resolution" to the dispute. He said another meeting on the matter is planned in the coming week.
"I am totally committed to continued dialogue with members of the St. Aug community and the Josephites in order to resolve this issue in a spirit of Christian reconciliation," he said.
In a weekly video address to the Catholic community pasted this month to the archdiocese's website, Aymond unveiled an upcoming church initiative to counter the street violence and murder rate in New Orleans, then pivoted to the subject of St. Augustine.
Some viewers said they saw that as an implied linkage between St. Augustine alumni and street crime, and Aymond later apologized for any unintended suggestion that St. Augustine's discipline had anything to do with crime.
The Rev. John Raphael, the president of St. Augustine, has said the issue is not as much about the wooden paddle as about the rights of African-American parents to educate and discipline their children in their own traditions.
"It's not about the paddle, it's about the right to self-govern," Warren Johnson, a 1981 alumnus of St. Augustine, said Saturday.
St. Augustine has been identified by the Center for Effective Discipline as the lone outlier among Catholic schools still embracing corporal punishment.
at 5:30 PM