Spare the rod? Panel advances bills to ban paddling in schools
BATON ROUGE — Spare the rod and spoil the child?
A House panel approved two bills here Wednesday that would shield children from corporal punishment in public schools.
Members of the House Education Committee approved House Bill 79 by Rep. Franklin Foil without objection. Foil's bill to end corporal punishment for special needs children is part of Gov. John Bel Edwards' legislative package.
"I feel very strongly about this legislation because children with disabilities are our most vulnerable and need to be protected," Foil said.
The committee also narrowly advanced House Bill 497 by Barbara Norton, D-Shreveport, which would completely ban corporal punishment in public schools, by a 6-5 vote. Committee Chairman Nancy Landry, R-Lafayette, broke the tie.
"It doesn't work today; it didn't work yesterday," Norton said.
Allison Badgerow of St. Charles Parish said corporal punishment meted out to her autistic son set him back considerably. Badgerow's voice cracked when she talked about her son being restrained during the Pledge of Allegiance.
She said her son, 6, has advanced since being moved to another school without corporal punishment.
"I feel like if we had moved him a long time ago he would still be in a mainstream class and succeeding," Badgerow said.
Foil said he wasn't sure if restraining a child is considered corporal punishment. "It may be covered under another law, but I'm going to look into it further," Foil said.
"We need a law that makes it clear that corporal punishment isn't appropriate with these children," he said.
Scott Richard of the Louisiana School Boards Association said 38 of the state's 65 public school districts allow for corporal punishment, but parents may opt out in all districts.
Richard's association official took no position on the bills, but he testified the association prefer the ultimate fate of corporal punishment be determined locally.
Norton has tried unsuccessfully to pass similar bills in past session.
"A child should not be hit and paddled in school regardless of whether or not they have disabilities," said Kate Mehok, who operates three charter schools in New Orleans.
Original Article: Spare the rod? Panel advances bills to ban paddling in schools by Greg Hilburn, USA Today Network