A high school principal in East Texas was arrested last week after paddling a student, causing her bodily injury and sparking national headlines that renewed the debate over whether corporal punishment belongs in schools.
Texas is one of just 17 states that allow corporal punishment — which includes hitting, spanking, paddling or deliberately inflicting pain to discipline students — in its public schools. Texas educators can use physical means of punishment if the school district’s board of trustees adopts a policy allowing it. Parents can opt their child out of receiving corporal punishment by providing written notice to the district.
Texas lawmakers have long discussed a ban on the practice, which dates back to the 19th century. Only a decade ago, lawmakers in Austin added a provision that allows a parent to opt their child out of corporal punishment. State lawmakers debated the controversial practice this year after Rep. Alma Allen, a Houston Democrat and former public school teacher, carried a bill that would prohibit public school employees from using corporal punishment on students.