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Parents Sue After Coach Whips Teen Players

By Tanya Roth, Esq. on November 12, 2010 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

A Mississippi high school coach is on leave after he allegedly whipped athletes on his basketball team. Coach Marlon Dorsey has admitted to "paddling" students in an effort to instill discipline. Dorsey has been suspended 28 days without pay. Parents of some of the players have filed suit in federal court.

According to the school website, there is no corporal punishment permitted at Murrah High School, but students, parents and even the coach have said this is something that did occur, reports CNN. According to the suit, one of the students was whipped "daily and sometimes more than once daily by striking him three times across his buttocks each time" with a "five to ten pound weight belt." The school released a statement saying that the matter had been dealt with. "Since this is a personnel matter, no further details will be provided to the public by the school district. We do not want to violate Coach Dorsey's privacy rights. However, you may be assured that this situation has been addressed."

The school may have concluded its actions, but the legal actions continue. The assistant coach, and school principal, Freddrick Murray, are also defendants in the suit. Plaintiffs claim Murray was told of the coach's actions, but did nothing to intervene.

Parents have the right to control their children's education. According to the Clarion Ledger, schools who do actually still have a policy of allowing corporal punishment allow parents to opt out. When parents are in a district that supposedly does not allow hitting students, they need to file charges to stop the abuse, Nsombi Lambright, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Mississippi, told the Clarion Ledger. Studies have shown that corporal punishment doesn't work, Lambright added. Many districts in Mississippi do allow corporal punishment, but Jackson Public Schools do not.

According to an interview with CNN, the attorney representing three of the students says the suit against coach Marlon Dorsey is seeking damages, the punishment of coach Dorsey and for the school district to make its policy clear that teachers may not use physical punishment on their students.

Some parents still support Marlon Dorsey, saying that his only intent was to help his students. One parent told the Clarion Ledger the coach helped the students. "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 Gary 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."

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