OKLAHOMA CITY — Oklahoma legislators want to ban educators from using corporal punishment to punish students with disabilities.
House Bill 1028 prohibits school district employees from using corporal punishment on students receiving federally protected special education services.
Rep. John Tully (R. Stillwater), who drafted the bill, said school officials shouldn’t attack students with disabilities and that legislators “haven’t closed some loopholes” in existing laws. rice field.
Oklahoma is one of 19 states that allow corporal punishment in public school classrooms. The state benefits from an educator serving children through an Individualized Education Program (IEP) and a provision of federal law known as Section 504, according to the analysis.
A 1977 U.S. Supreme Court decision allowed corporal punishment in schools and allowed states to set their own rules. Oklahoma legislators typically leave decisions to their local constituencies. The state has no bans, but neither does it mandate. Also, it was not clear how many districts allowed it.
However, the State Department of Education introduced a rule prohibiting corporal punishment of students with disabilities, beginning in the 2020-21 school year.
Educators in Oklahoma reported 3,968 instances of corporal punishment in 2017-18, according to the latest federal data available from the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights. The federal government reported corporal punishment in more than 1,800 Oklahoma schools.
A federal analysis found that nearly 22% of reported punishments were administered to Oklahoma children with disabilities.
This is despite a 2017 state law prohibiting the use of corporal punishment for students with “most significant cognitive impairment” unless the parent provides a written waiver or consents as part of the IEP.
Talley argues that federal law prohibits corporal punishment of IEP students. He said the 2017 law left a gray area.
“We have paddling kids in Oklahoma who have special needs,” Tully said. “I think it’s probably still going on, so let’s shut it down.”
A 2016 analysis found that corporal punishment is used “50 percent more often” against black youth and people with disabilities nationwide. The analysis, which looked at 160,000 cases between 2013 and 2014, was published by researchers at the University of Texas and Pennsylvania State University.
Talley said children should be punished in an appropriate manner. But they still walk.
“I don’t know if getting them paddling helps them understand ‘don’t walk behind horses’ because of their intellectual capacity,” Tully said.
He said that while legislators are “very careful” not to step on parents’ feet when it comes to school discipline decisions, schools also need to be safe places for children with IEPs. .
According to the State Department of Education, 120,930 Oklahoma students are currently eligible for an IEP or Section 504.
Tully said he was ready for a backlash against his law.
State law defines corporal punishment as “inflicting physical pain on a child by hitting, rowing, slapping, or otherwise using physical force to discipline a child.”
Former Republican Rep. Bobby Cleveland, who drafted the 2017 bill, became interested in the issue after he told how his nephew, who was born deaf, had been sculpted for his disability as an adult. He said that he came to have Cleveland said that as a child his nephew, who was deaf, could not understand why he was being punished.
He said he visited several schools when they started drafting the bill and saw a special education teacher beat a child’s hand with a ruler.
“She said ‘no’ and hit him,” Cleveland said. “If she does while I’m there, what do you think will happen when you’re not there?”
He said witnessing the incident solidified his reasons for wanting to stop using corporal punishment on students with disabilities.
Cleveland said he sympathizes with special education teachers because it’s a tough job, but added that they should be trained. However, many children with disabilities do not understand why they are being physically punished and therefore do not think it is “right” to do so.
He also said that just because a child has an IEP doesn’t necessarily mean they don’t know the difference between right and wrong.
“We don’t have phone calls to hit the kids,” said former teacher John Waldron, State Rep. D-Tulsa. “Corporal punishment doesn’t teach you anything good except that it’s okay to hit people. No, this is an old practice that should be completely abandoned.”
He supports Talley’s laws, but said corporal punishment has been around for so long that it is “difficult to eradicate.”
He said that change is happening slowly in Oklahoma, with “old practices prevailing” in certain places. Waldron said he has met adults who have been corporally punished at school.
“We know a lot more about[how]humans grow, what young people need, and they arbitrarily help them as a sort of remedial action. You don’t need a teacher to inflict pain on you.
Still, he said he expects the bill to face pushback from lawmakers, especially state senators. He said it could even be blocked by a House committee.
“But ultimately we have to recognize that this generation of kids has different needs,” Waldron said.