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Corporal Punishment in Public Schools laws

Information on the law about Corporal Punishment in Public Schools

In 1977, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Ingraham v. Wright, that schools may use corporal punishment despite parental objection. Prior to that ruling, there were few, if any, state statutes regulating the use of physical means of discipline in schools. After the decision, states began to address the issue. At present, twenty-five states have statutes covering corporal punishment.

The following chart covers only state statutes regarding corporal punishment. It should be noted that there are also local rules that authorize the use of corporal punishment or that require parental consent before corporal punishment can be imposed upon a child. Local school districts, and even individual schools, often have their own policies and procedures for handling disciplinary problems.

This issue has become very controversial lately. With heightened public awareness of child abuse and increased sensitivity to the emotional well-being of children, many schools and teachers are loath to impose any physical discipline whatsoever upon students for fear of emotionally scarring them or being accused of child abuse themselves.

Table 15: Corporal Punishment in Public Schools

State Code Section Punishment Allowed Circumstances Allowable
ALABAMA 16-1-24.1 Local school boards to adopt code for conduct and discipline of students.  
ALASKA 11.81.430   When use of force is consistent with the welfare of the students and if authorized by school regulations adopted by the school board
ARIZONA 15-843 Procedures for disciplining pupils, including the use of corporal punishment, are decided and allowed by governing board; use of corporal punishment is to be consistent with state board of education guidelines.  
ARKANSAS 6-18-505 Use of corporal punishment only in specifically authorized school district and administered in accord with district's written student discipline policy. "In order to maintain discipline and order within public schools."
CALIFORNIA Educ. §§49000, 49001 Corporal punishment prohibited.  
COLORADO No statutory provisions    
CONNECTICUT No statutory provisions    
DELAWARE Tit. 14, §701 Teachers may exercise same authority as parents, including the administration of corporal punishment where deemed necessary in accordance with district board of education policy.  
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA No statutory provisions    
FLORIDA 1003.32 Corporal punishment allowed, subject to prescribed procedures. Must have approval in principle by the principal before it is used; presence of another informed adult; and that an explanation is provided to parents.
GEORGIA 20-2-730, et seq. Corporal punishment allowed, subject to various restrictions. It may not be excessive or unduly severe or be used as a first line of punishment; it must be administered in the presence of a school official; a written explanation must be provided on request; and it may not be administered if a physician certifies that the child's mental or emotional stability could be affected.

Table 15: Corporal Punishment in Public Schools—Continued

State Code Section Punishment Allowed Circumstances Allowable
HAWAII 302A-1141 Physical punishment may not be used, but a teacher may use reasonable force to restrain a student in attendance from hurting himself or any other person or property with other teacher present and out of other students' presence.  
IDAHO No statutory provisions    
ILLINOIS No statutory provisions    
INDIANA 20-8.1-5.1-3 Teachers can take disciplinary action necessary to promote orderly student conduct.  
IOWA 280.21 Infliction of corporal punishment not allowed. Physical contact not considered corporal punishment if "reasonable and necessary under the circumstances."  
KANSAS No statutory provisions    
KENTUCKY 161.180 Hold pupils to a "strict account for their conduct on school premises."  
LOUISIANA 17:223, 17:416.1 Each city school board shall have discretion in the use of corporal punishment; corporal punishment allowed in a reasonable manner; corporal punishment discretionary, but rules to implement and control any form of corporal punishment to be adopted by each city school board or parish. "Good cause."
MAINE No statutory provisions    
MARYLAND Educ. 7-306 Corporal punishment may not be administered to discipline student. Disciplinary measures deemed appropriate to maintain "atmosphere of order" may be permitted by county school boards
MASSACHUSETTS Ch. 71 §37G Prohibits corporal punishment, but any member of school committee, teacher, or agent of school may use reasonable force to protect themselves, pupils, or other persons from an assault by a pupil.  
MICHIGAN 380.1312 Corporal punishment or threats of corporal punishment not to be inflicted "under any circumstances"; reasonable physical force may be used in self-defense or in defense of others, to obtain possession of weapon or other dangerous object or to protect property or to restrain or to remove noncomplying child from interfering with order of school.  
MINNESOTA 121A.58 Corporal punishment prohibited.  
MISSISSIPPI 37-11-57 Corporal punishment does not constitute abuse if reasonable manner. Reasonable physical force as necessary to maintain order.

Table 15: Corporal Punishment in Public Schools—Continued

State Code Section Punishment Allowed Circumstances Allowable
MISSOURI 160.261 "Spanking" approved and not considered child abuse when administered in reasonable manner and in accordance with written policy of discipline approved by board; where unreasonableness is alleged, initial investigation to be by school and not division of family services.  
MONTANA 20-4-302 No school district employee may inflict corporal punishment on a pupil. Physical pain resulting from a physical restraint which is reasonable and necessary is not corporal punishment (to quell a disturbance, provide self-protection, protect others from physical injury, obtain possession of a weapon, protect property from serious harm, maintain orderly conduct.)
NEBRASKA 79.295 Corporal punishment prohibited.  
NEVADA 392.4633 Corporal punishment prohibited. Reasonable and necessary force for: quell disturbance; obtain possession of weapon; self-defense; to escort disruptive student.
NEW HAMPSHIRE 627.6 (II)   Teachers justified in using necessary force to maintain discipline.
NEW JERSEY 18A:6-1 Corporal punishment prohibited. Reasonable force may be used to quell a disturbance, obtain possession of weapons, etc., for self-defense or for protection of person or property and not considered corporal punishment.
NEW MEXICO 22-5-4.3 Each school district creates rules of conduct which may include corporal punishment.  
NEW YORK No statutory provisions    
NORTH CAROLINA 115C-288; 115C-390, 391 Principals, teachers, and others may use reasonable force in the exercise of lawful authority to restrain or correct pupils and maintain order; local boards may not prohibit use of such force but are to adopt policies governing administration of corporal punishment, including at a minimum: notice to students and parents; teacher and no other students present.  

Table 15: Corporal Punishment in Public Schools—Continued

State Code Section Punishment Allowed Circumstances Allowable
NORTH DAKOTA 12.1-05-05 Use of force in disciplining students permitted provided it does not create substantial risk of death, serious bodily injury, disfigurement, or gross degradation.  
OHIO 3319.41 Corporal punishment prohibited. Board may not prohibit use of reasonable force to quell a disturbance, threatening physical injury; gain possession of weapon; or protect property.
OKLAHOMA Tit. 70 §24-100.4 Boards to adopt policy for the control and discipline of students.  
OREGON 339.250 Infliction of corporal punishment is not authorized.  
PENNSYLVANIA No statutory provisions    
RHODE ISLAND No statutory provisions    
SOUTH CAROLINA 59-63-260 Boards may provide corporal punishment for any pupil that it deems just and proper.  
SOUTH DAKOTA 13-32-2 Use of physical force that is reasonable and necessary for supervisory control over students.  
TENNESSEE 49-6-4103; 4104 Corporal punishment allowed if imposed in reasonable manner; local board of education shall adopt rules and regulations to implement and control corporal punishment in its schools. "Good cause"; in order to maintain discipline and order.
TEXAS No statutory provisions    
UTAH 53A-11-802 Corporal punishment prohibited. Use of reasonable and necessary physical restraint or force for self-defense or other appropriate circumstances listed in statute.
VERMONT Tit. 16, §1161a Corporal punishment prohibited, but reasonable and necessary force may be used to quell a disturbance, obtain possession of weapon, in self-defense, or protection of persons or property.  
VIRGINIA 22.1-279.1 Corporal punishment prohibited, but "incidental, minor or reasonable physical contact or other actions" permitted to maintain order and control; reasonable and necessary force permitted to quell a disturbance or remove a child to prevent harm, in self-defense, to obtain possession of weapon, etc.  
WASHINGTON 28A-150-300 Use of corporal punishment is prohibited.  
WEST VIRGINIA 18A-5-1 Corporal punishment is prohibited.  

Table 15: Corporal Punishment in Public Schools—Continued

State Code Section Punishment Allowed Circumstances Allowable
WISCONSIN 118.31 Corporal punishment generally prohibited; reasonable and necessary force allowed in self-defense, to protect others, etc., and as proscribed by school board policy.  
WYOMING 21-4-308 Boards may adopt rules for reasonable forms of punishment and disciplinary measures that teachers are authorized to impose.  

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