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North Dakota panel recommends bill on corporal punishment

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BISMARCK - A Senate panel has blessed a bill that could prevent another firing like the one that affected former West Fargo school music teacher Mavis Tjon.

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The Senate Education Committee on Wednesday agreed to recommend passage of Senate Bill 2289, which would require school districts to create corporal punishment policies that are no stricter than state law.

It also calls for a district with more than one school to have the same policy throughout, though variations are assumed for different ages of students.

Tjon was fired in late 2006 after she tapped a boy on the head to get his attention while he was disrupting a class. She protested her firing in court and lost.

Tjon was not in Bismarck to testify Wednesday because she has suffered a broken hip, senators said, but she had Sen. Judy Lee, R-West Fargo, read testimony she had prepared.

The West Fargo school policy did not require the school officials to prove that a teacher intentionally caused a student pain or injury, Tjon said, and so she was dismissed even though the boy's parents never made a complaint. The district allowed each separate school building to have its own unique corporal punishment policy, and Tjon taught in three different schools.

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