Roosevelt Elementary principal resigned amid investigation that she spanked a student

Weeks after starting as Roosevelt Elementary's new principal, Laura Franks resigned last month amid an investigation into her spanking a disruptive kindergarten student.

The reason for her resignation had been a mystery to parents and students at the school. But new records released last week to the Inlander reveal details of the incident leading to her choosing to leave the school.

click to enlarge Laura Franks
Laura Franks

A kindergarten student was being disruptive in class and then started running around the school, the records state. He then began to "topple over chairs," then throw them towards staff members. He also spit at, hit and kicked a staff member, records show.

When Franks saw the student, she asked "Do I have to sit on you?" according to notes detailing the incident. The student continued to "throw items, kick at staff, climb on the table and mark on posters, table, and wall," records say.

When he stood on a table, Franks "swatted him on the bottom with an open hand," interview records say.

Franks admitted as much about the incident to a district official later that day.

"I did swat his butt," she said on Sept. 13. "I did it to get him to snap out of it — he did."

After the spanking, a staff member began talking with the student. The student asked about a "solid glass egg" on the shelves, and the staff member told him the egg had magical powers. Eventually, the student sat down and quietly talked.

Franks said of the spanking, "I've never done this before."

It was enough for the district to put her on paid leave and initiate an investigation. The district also wrote the state Office of Professional Practices, under the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction.

"I possess sufficient reliable information to believe that Ms. Franks may have committed an act or acts of unprofessional conduct," the letter from district Superintendent Shelley Redinger said.

But Franks quickly resigned.

State law prohibits the use of "corporal punishment" in schools. But it's unclear what discipline would have been handed down by the district or the state. Spokane Public Schools spokesman Brian Coddington says each case is handled individually.

He adds that the district knew of no similar incidents from Franks' time as an administrator in California.

American Inheritance: Unpacking World War II @ Northwest Museum of Arts & Culture

Tuesdays-Sundays, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Continues through May 23
  • or

About The Author

Wilson Criscione

Wilson Criscione, born and raised in Spokane, is an Inlander staff writer covering education and social services in the Inland Northwest.