Missouri School District Reinstates Spanking As ‘Last Resort’ For Disciplining Students

Debbra Szafryk

A Missouri school district is making headlines after it notified parents of a board-approved policy to allow corporal punishment again to discipline students.

According to the Springfield News-Leader, the policy was approved in June, but parents were only recently notified of the decision.

Students will only receive corporal punishment as a last resort and with written permission from parents. In addition, each family has been asked to opt-in or out of the policy.

When asked how many families have opted in, Merlyn Johnson, the Cassville superintendent, says he does not yet know.

“The forms were sent out to the parents on the open house night and we are receiving them today,” he said. “I’ll have a number later in the week.”

Johnson also shared that the decision to return to corporal punishment was made after many parents complained of its absence.

“Parents have said ‘why can’t you paddle my student?’ and we’re like ‘We can’t paddle your student, our policy does not support that,’” he told the Springfield News-Leader. “There had been conversations with parents and there had been requests from parents for us to look into it.”

Corporal punishment was originally abandoned by the school district in 2001. 

According to The Guardian, conversations surrounding re-introducing corporal punishment began last year after a survey was sent out to parents.

Survey results show parents were highly concerned about additional discipline for their children that did not include suspension.

The complaints that we have heard from some of our parents is that they don’t want their students suspended. They want another option,” Johnson told The Hill. “And so, this was just another option that we could use before we get to that point of suspension.”

For those families that decide to opt in, Johnson says corporal punishment will be used as a “last resort.” And will only be used in “reasonable form and upon the recommendation of the principal.”

In addition, corporal punishment may only be inflicted by the principal, in the presence of a witness. And in the absence of other students.

According to the policy, reviewed by the Springfield News-Leader, there can be “no chance of bodily injury or harm.” And striking a student on the head or face is not permitted. Students may only be swatted on the buttocks with a paddle.

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