Students in more than half of Louisiana’s public school districts will still be subject to paddling and spanking in school for misbehavior after the state House on Monday rejected a proposal to ban corporal punishment across the state.
The Times-Picayune reports that only 34 lawmakers voted in favor of Shreveport Democrat Rep. Barbara Norton’s prohibition bill, and 61 lawmakers voted against it.
Norton said her proposal would make sure “that we not brutalize our children.” She added that 31 other states have outlawed the punishment and found other ways to discipline students at school.
“I believe at the end of the day, we’re teaching our students about violence,”Norton said.
Rep. Rogers Pope, a Republican and retired school superintendent from Denham Springs, said that local districts should decide whether to use corporal punishment, not the state.
“I still feel like we can do some things better at the local level,” Pope said.
The discretion to use corporal punishment as a disciplinary method is left up to the local school boards per Louisiana law, and according to Scott Richard, executive director of the state school boards association, 38 of the state’s 69 public school districts allow schools to use corporal punishment.
Lafayette Rep. Nancy Landry is the Republican chairwoman of the House Education Committee. While she doesn’t oppose the use of corporal punishment in schools, she supported the ban because state law includes no safeguards for students.
Landry said that male administrators should not be allowed to spank female students, and parental permission should be required before schools can use corporal punishment. She said that a second adult should be present when the punishment is administered, and the student shouldn’t have to remove any clothing before being paddled.
“There’s no requirement that these safeguards be in local policy,” Landry said.
Both the Louisiana School Boards Association and the Louisiana Association of Public Charter Schools told lawmakers that decisions on whether to allow corporal punishment should be left to local districts and schools.
Although Norton’s bill did not pass, the House unanimously backed another proposal to ban corporal punishment of students with disabilities.
According to the Times-Picayune, all districts in greater New Orleans ban corporal punishment as a practice, but charter schools may allow it if the boards authorizing their contracts agree.
Read more at the Times-Picayune.