Oklahoma principal accused of spanking students with paddle

McALESTER, Okla. (AP) — An Oklahoma principal accused of spanking two elementary school students with a wooden paddle, leaving both boys bruised, has been charged with child abuse and placed on administrative leave.

Pittsburg County court records indicate Gary Gunckel, the 50-year-old the principal at Indianola Public Schools, was charged Friday with two counts of child abuse by injury. A preliminary hearing conference is scheduled for Oct. 12.

The McAlester News-Capital reports that Gunckel is accused of “using unreasonable force” on Sept. 6 when he paddled the students aged 10 and 11.

According to an affidavit of probable cause dated Sept. 21, a parent of one of the boys told Pittsburg County Sheriff’s Deputy Cody Vaughn that the bruising and welts on her son’s buttocks after the paddling were excessive. She said she reported it because she wanted to protect her son and other students from that kind of treatment.

She said the mother of the other boy contacted her to say her son was also bruised, the affidavit says.

The parent told Vaughn that Gunckel sought her permission to paddle her son as punishment for arguing with the other boy, and that she agreed.

She said Gunckel later apologized “for busting the boys” and said he spanked the elementary students the same way he spanked high school students. He told the parent he was sorry that her son bruises easily. She said he explained to the boy that it was “supposed to hurt so that he would remember not to do what he was doing anymore,” the affidavit says.

Indianola Superintendent Adam Newman says Gunckel has been placed on administrative leave until the charges are resolved.

Gunckel hasn’t returned a telephone call seeking comment. Court records don’t list an attorney who can speak on his behalf.

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