Corporal punishment, most often the use of wooden paddles, is legal in public schools in 20 states, including Kentucky. And according to a new report from Human Rights Watch, students with disabilities are being disproportionately affected. The report includes interviews with parents who discovered injuries caused by corporal punishment, sometimes long after such punishment began. Kentucky Department of Education spokeswoman Lisa Gross says state law does not compel educators to tell parents when they’ve used physical punishment.
“There’s no statutory requirement that parents be notified specifically about corporal punishment, but most district policies have some sort of parental notification requirement for any kind of disciplinary action,” says Gross.
There were more than 2500 incidents of corporal punishment reported in Kentucky public schools in the 2007-2008 school year. That’s down from approximately 4000 incidents in the 2003-2004 academic year. According to Human Rights Watch, corporal punishment is prohibited under international human rights law. There is no federal law prohibiting its use in U.S. public schools.
On the web:
- Kentucky Public School Law: http://www.education.ky.gov/NR/rdonlyres/1267B352-3FBB-4FB6-8392-7280143F9113/0/KYSCHOOLLAWS2008EDITION.pdf
- Human Rights Watch: http://www.hrw.org/node/84950
- Kentucky Center for School Safety: http://www.kysafeschools.org/index.html