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Kentucky Board of Education approves stricter regulations for corporal punishment

Posted at 6:18 PM, Dec 02, 2021

LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — The Kentucky Board of Education has passed new, stricter regulations for how and when schools can use corporal punishment.

"We just know a lot more about the impact and lack of effectiveness of this practice now than we did in the 1980s," said Commissioner Dr. Jason Glass.

Nearly 40 years later, many state educators want to see changes. The same goes for Representative Steve Riley.

"If you use corporal punishment on them, they don't feel like you're doing that out of love," said Rep. Riley (R-Glasgow). "They think you're doing it out of anger."

Here is what is included in the new regulations:

  • Schools have to get written consent from a parent or guardian within the first five days of the school year if the person will allow corporal punishment for their child.
  • The school will also need verbal approval before the actual administration. Only a principal or assistant principal can administer corporal punishment.
  • Afterward, the student must have at least 30 minutes of school-provided counseling.

"I think there's a greater recognition of the trauma and damage and lack of effectiveness as a disciplinary tool," Glass said.

Glass says the board cannot ban this entirely because it's written into state law.

"Students, teachers, administrators, I just think it's not in the best interest of anybody so I think it's a good step that has been taken," Riley says.

According to state data, 156 school districts prohibit corporal punishment. Eleven have no clear policy. Four districts, including Perry County and Hazard Independent, the board says have permissive policies.

"It's all from really a trauma-informed lens and trying to reduce and mitigate the trauma this causes," Glass says.

Experts have suggested corporal punishment could make students' behavior worse.

"So many of these kids have so many problems at home in their home situations and I don't think it's a very good idea," Riley says.

As of November 12, there have been 13 corporal punishment cases in Kentucky, keeping in mind we are in a pandemic. In 2017-18, there were more than 430 cases.

Riley says he plans to file a bill to ban it once again. The superintendent for the Hazard Independent Schools says they applaud the KBE for taking this step and they will happily comply. She goes on to say they will look at their own policies to ensure they are in alignment.