The Sentinel-Record

Ban on school paddlings fails in vote


BATON ROUGE — A bid to ban paddling and other forms of corporal punishment in Louisiana’s public schools fell five votes short of passage in the state House.

Forty-eight lawmakers supported the proposal from Republican Rep. Stephanie Hilferty, while 49 voted against it Tuesday night. The bill needed 53 votes to pass.

Critics said the measure would usurp the rights of school districts to decide the issue for themselves. Republican Rep. Larry Bagley, a former teacher, said rules are in effect to make sure corporal punishment is done properly.

Hilferty said the American Academy of Pediatrics opposes corporal punishment because of its harmful effect on children. She said boys and Black students are more likely to be targets of such punishment. She noted the state bans hitting youngsters in the juvenile-justice system.

Current law allows the state’s 69 school districts to decide whether to use corporal punishment. Currently, 29 school systems allow spanking and other forms of physical punishment and 40 systems ban it.

The practice is prohibited in 31 states, according to the National Conference of State Legislatur­es.

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