Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards has signed a bill that bans physical discipline at public elementary and secondary schools unless parents provide written permission.
State law currently allows public school teachers and administrators to use corporal punishment on students without parents’ permission. Such discipline includes “hitting, paddling, striking, spanking, slapping, or any other physical force that causes pain or physical discomfort,” according to the new law that goes into effect in August. It will also apply to nonpublic schools that receive state funds.
At least 27 of Louisiana’s 69 school systems have banned corporal punishment and at least 19 allowed it as of 2022, The Advocate reported in 2022.
The bill, written by Rep. Stephanie Hilferty, R-New Orleans, would require parents in districts that still use corporal punishment to sign a permission slip if they allow their child to be physically disciplined. The bill gives parents the choice over how their child is punished, she said.
Hilferty attempted a similar bill last year that narrowly failed to advance from the House. This year, it passed the House in a 74-21 vote and was approved in the Senate, 37-1.
In the 1977 Ingraham v. Wright case, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of corporal punishment in public schools. More than a dozen states still allow corporal punishment in public schools, according to USA Today, and nearly all allow it in private schools.