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Why Florida Schools Can Paddle Students Against Parents’ Wishes

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 has filed a notice to sue the Levy County School District.

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 don’t always check the paperwork before they administer the punishment.

And when that happens, Florida statutes protect the principals and teachers from lawsuits.

Florida Law Protects Principals and Teachers

Robert Rush, a civil rights attorney in Gainesville, says state law does not require schools to get parental consent.

“If the school board and the principal specifically authorize corporal punishment, it can be administered lawfully against the parent’s wishes,” Rush said. 

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Wrapping Up Education Bills In The 2012 Florida Legislative Session

Gregory Moine / Flickr

Education didn't dominate the session, but a handful of issues were contentious.

The big school issue was the budget, and Gov. Rick Scott threw out a challenge early on — add $1 billion to K-12 funding or risk a veto.

Lawmakers hit that target, though schools say the new money won’t make up for rising enrollment and past budget cuts.

Here’s a wrap-up on the other big education issues of Florida’s 2012 legislative session.

What passed

Accelerated learning — Students who want to graduate high school in less than four years can do so if Gov. Rick Scott signs this bill into law. This was a top priority of the Foundation for Florida’s Future, the education non-profit founded by former Gov. Jeb Bush.

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USF President Answers Questions About Poly’s Future

University of South Florida president Judy Genshaft fielded lots of question about USF’s future in Polk County at a civic group meeting Monday. Also in attendance: Sen. JD Alexander, who shepherded a bill creating a new Polk County university through the Legislature.


BARTOW | There was an elephant in the dining room at the monthly meeting of the Tiger Bay Club of Polk County on Monday, and his name was Sen. J.D. Alexander. University of South Florida President Judy Genshaft and Regional Chancellor David Touchton were the guest speakers as Alexander, R-Lake Wales, sat in the audience at the Peace River County Club in Bartow with about 50 other guests.

Read more at: www.theledger.com

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