Grammar errors mean corporal punishment (1909)

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Principal, in wrath, beats girl

San Leandro aroused over Charles Brenner’s system of correction

“Spare the rod, spoil the child” not in favor with parents

Allegations made in complaint filed with the school trustees

Errors in grammar given as excuse for corporal punishment

That several girl pupils of the eighth grade grammar school were whipped by Charles Brenner, vice principal and teacher of that grade, was the allegation made today in a complaint filed against Brenner with the board of school trustees.

The victims of Brenner’s reputed tactics are all 15 years of age or more. Their parents are deeply stirred by the indignities which the girls say were inflicted upon them and the story that came from the classroom has incensed the entire community, and caused more bitter feeling than has ever been engendered in school circles.

J E Damont, father of Miss Alverna Damont, one of the girls who claims to have been punished by Brenner, declared tonight that he would have the vice principal ousted from the school department. He insisted that he cannot, as a man and a father, passively permit Brenner’s action to go unrebuked.

Errors cause wrath

Brenner, in his own defense, made no denial of the sensational charges filed against him. On the contrary, he sought rather to vindicate his conduct.

The faults which the girls committed as to arouse the wrath of Brenner were trifling errors in the recitation of their grammar lessons. When asked concerning the matter, Brenner simply said: “I gave the girls ample time in which to prepare their lessons, and warned them of the penalty that I would impose if they failed to learn the lessons I assigned. They failed to comply with the instruction, and the penalty was imposed.”

But the parents do not take the easy, matter-of-fact view of the case which Brenner does. They are thoroughly angered over the act.

J E Damont is perhaps the angriest. “The mere thought of whipping young ladies the size of my daughter is outrageous,” said Damont. “The public school is no place for such a man. I will use every effort to have him put out of the school department. I don’t care what my daughter’s offense was. I understand she did not have her grammar lesson. What is a grammar lesson to the indignity which this fellow inflicted upon her? The man who would raise a hand against a girl or a woman has no business in the achool department.”

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Grammar caused the trouble

According to the report that came from the schoolroom today, the teacher has been having difficulty in teaching formal rules of grammar to his pupils. He charged the class with indifference, and vowed that if the lessons were not better learned, he would use corporal punishment.

The, threats made by Brenner did not stimulate interest in grammar to the vice principal’s satisfaction, and when the class met this morning and he found that several of the girl pupils were deficient in their lessons, he showed that he was greatly incensed. Then he carried out his threat, the girls declare.

The indignity of the punishment, the anger of the teacher, the mere fact that a man, even one in a superior and disciplinary position, should raise his hand against a girl, which, according to Damont and others, was done by Brenner, has opened a volcanic crater on the edge of Brenner’s job, and the fathers of the offended girls are determined that Brenner will be toppled over into the oblivion of dismissal from his place.


Top illustration: Postcard mailed in 1909 showing Juana Avenue in San Leandro, California

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