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Your Guide to Corporal Punishment in Florida Public Schools

Background

Sarah Gonzalez / StateImpact Florida

Gierrea Bostick, 6, was paddled on his second week of pre-school without the consent of his mom, Tenika Jones. The paddles allegedly left welts on Gierrea’s bottom and Jones filed a notice to sue the Levy County School District.

In 2009, former Florida Gov. Charlie Crist signed legislation requiring school districts that still use corporal punishment to review the policy at a School Board meeting every three years.

Schools that want the right to paddle students must hear public testimony, and districts that do not meet the requirements are banned from paddling students as a form of discipline.

Florida statutes on school corporal punishment do not require schools to get parental consent before they paddle students, though many Florida school districts do send home a waiver asking parents for permission.

There are no regulations on what instrument can be used when administering school corporal punishment, but it is often a wooden or fiber-glass board made by community members or by students in wood shop class.

The following procedures are required by state law if a teacher or principal is administering corporal punishment.

  1. The use of corporal punishment shall be approved in principle by the principal before it is used, but approval is not necessary for each specific instance in which it is used. The principal shall prepare guidelines for administering such punishment which identify the types of punishable offenses, the conditions under which the punishment shall be administered, and the specific personnel on the school staff authorized to administer the punishment
  2. A teacher or principal may administer corporal punishment only in the presence of another adult who is informed beforehand, and in the student’s presence, of the reason for the punishment.
  3. A teacher or principal who has administered punishment shall, upon request, provide the student’s parent with a written explanation of the reason for the punishment and the name of the other adult who was present.

Jessica Pupovac / StateImpact

Most districts do not paddle students, and the ones that do are largely located in Northern Florida. Click on the map for more detail.

Legal Definition of “Corporal Punishment”

“Moderate use of physical force or physical contact by a teacher or principal as may be necessary to maintain discipline or to enforce school rule.”

The term corporal punishment “does not include the use of such reasonable force by a teacher or principal as may be necessary for self protection or to protect other students from disruptive students.”

Latest Posts

Marion County School Board Reverses Course On Paddling Students

Marion County’s school board has eliminated corporal punishment of students — just one year after the board reinstated physical discipline. School board member Ron Crawford said public reaction to last year’s decision was overwhelming, Joe Callahan with the Ocala Star-Banner reports: The reversal was led by School Board member Ron Crawford, who last year cast [...]

To Thwack Or Not To Thwack; Corporal Punishment Is Not Just Florida’s Dilemma

paddle hin255

Florida is on a shrinking list of states that still allow corporal punishment in schools. Education Week’s Alyssa Morones looked at how states are grappling with corporal punishment: Even as an increasing number of districts and states abolish the practice, corporal punishment remains a legal form of discipline in 19 states, most of them in [...]

Corporal Punishment Will Return To Marion County Elementary Schools

The paddle at Sneads High School in Jackson County, Fla. sits on the principal's desk.

The Marion school board has voted to reinstate paddling in county elementary schools after a three-year hiatus. The punishment comes with a few restrictions. From the Ocala Star-Banner: The board ruled that paddling can be used only if a parent gives a standing written OK once a year. In addition, the principal must obtain verbal [...]

Feedback Loop: The Lords Of Discipline Edition

The paddle at Holmes County High School in Bonifay, Fla. was made by students in woodshop class four years ago.

Sarah Gonzalez’ stories this week about corporal punishment in Florida schools sparked plenty of interest after they were picked up by NPR, The Huffington Post and a number of parenting and legal blogs. ABC News posted their own story today. If you missed any of Sarah’s coverage, check it out below. Why Florida Schools Want [...]

Some Florida Students Make The Paddles Used To Discipline Classmates

The paddle at Sneads High School in Jackson County, Fla. sits on the principal's desk.

The late comedian Richard Pryor had a classic bit about being forced to find and strip a “decent switch” so that his grandmother could administer a “decent whippin.’” Florida students in school districts that still use a paddle to spank misbehaving pupils know the feeling. At Holmes County High School in Bonifay, Fla., students make [...]

Why School Leaders Say There’s Nothing Sexual About Paddling Students

Our story on Florida schools that paddle students was picked up by NPR and we’ve gotten some comments from folks who wondered about a sexual element to spanking. John Shelley (JackinVosburg) wrote: Why do they hit the kids in the butt? Is this a sexual thing? Conky Swayze (Conky) wrote: There’s so much sexual connotation with [...]

Why Florida Schools Can Paddle Students Against Parents’ Wishes

A typical wooden paddle used for school corporal punishment.

State law allows schools in Florida to punish students by spanking them with a paddle, which is often a wooden or plexiglass board. The administrators at most schools with corporal punishment policies ask parents for permission to paddle their children. Many principals say they will not paddle a kid against the parent’s wishes. But schools [...]

Mapping Corporal Punishment in Florida Schools

Most districts do not paddle students, and the ones that do are largely located in Northern Florida. Click on the map for more detail.

Find out which Florida school districts used corporal punishment in the 2009-2010 school year. Click on individual district to see specific schools and numbers. Read the story. Source: Florida Department of Education | Download the data

Why Florida Schools Want the Right to Paddle Misbehaving Students

Gierrea Bostick, 6, was paddled on his second week of pre-school without the consent of his mom, Tenika Jones. The paddles left welts on Gierrea's bottom and Jones has filed a notice to sue the Levy County School District.

Spanking in school may seem like a relic of the past. But in Florida, students from preschoolers to high school seniors are still being paddled by teachers and principals. In parts of the state, mostly in the rural north, getting spanked at school, on your butt, with a wooden or fiberglass board, is just part [...]

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