Senate Rejects Corporal Punishment Change
Special Report - July 25, 2009
The North Carolina State Senate rejected a bill Wednesday afternoon that would have limited local school districts’ authority on policies related to the use of corporal punishment. HB 442Parental Involvement in School Discipline failed 2125 even after 2 amendments passed to try to alleviate concerns over burdensome parental contact and data reporting requirements.
Under the bill, the 55 out of 115 school districts that still allow the use of corporal punishment in very specific and controlled circumstances, would have been required to attempt to contact a student’s parent before the administration of corporal punishment and to offer parents to opportunity to withhold consent to such at the beginning of the school year. In addition, those districts would have been required to report the number of students who received corporal punishment, their race, and whether they have a disability.
Senator Foriest (DAlamance), who handled the bill in the Senate, offered an amendment to delete the reporting requirement after a number of Senators expressed concerns about the purpose and usefulness of collecting such data and the effect of over-burdening local schools, especially in a tight budget year. Senator Nesbitt (DBuncombe) offered an amendment to delete the requirement that the school must attempt to notify the parent before the administration of corporal punishment, something he and other Senators saw as redundant in light of the requirement that a form be sent home at the beginning of the school year asking for objections. Both amendments passed.
A variety of Democrat and Republican Senators complained during debate in committee and on two different occasions on the floor that, regardless of the intent of HB 442, it would effectively ban the use of corporal punishment in all schools in the state. According to opponents of the bill, one of the top reasons parents cite for withdrawing a child from public school is lack of discipline. They argued that HB 442 would only further exacerbate the problem of subpar discipline in the public schools and was unnecessary and burdensome to local districts, who should retain the authority to set disciplinary policy.
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