Oklahoma principal charged with child abuse over paddlings

McALESTER, Okla. (AP) -- Child abuse charges have been filed against a southeastern Oklahoma school principal in connection with the paddling of two students.

Pittsburg County court records indicate 50-year-old Gary Gunckel was charged with two counts of child abuse by injury on Friday. A preliminary hearing conference is scheduled Oct. 12.

The McAlester News-Capital reports that Gunckel, principal at Indianola Public Schools, is accused of "using unreasonable force" when he used a wooden paddle to spank two elementary school students, ages 10 and 11, on Sept. 6.

A statement by Indianola Superintendent Adam Newman says Gunckel has been placed on administrative leave. Gunckel didn't immediately return a telephone call seeking comment and court records don't list an attorney who could speak on his behalf.

Newman continued to say the following: 

"Although federal law prohibits any school district from disclosing specific information related to an individual child’s discipline or their student records, Mr. Gunckel followed district policy. In addition to following district policy, all administrators are asked to contact parents and offer alternatives to the discipline options.

While the district has a policy in place that outlines the student discipline, including the types of discipline methods available for administrators to utilize, the administration will seek out input from our
community and parents, to determine their thoughts and opinions on whether or not we will move to change the discipline policy."

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