Putting Education Reform To The Test


Your Guide to Corporal Punishment in Florida Public Schools


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.”

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