SHREVEPORT, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – Schools in Caddo and Bossier Parishes are weighing in on House Bill 649, which would ban spanking and corporal punishment in Louisiana public schools. Metairie Republican Rep. Stephanie Hilferty’s bill passed the Louisiana House Wednesday.

Caddo Parish Schools on Thursday released this statement:

“Caddo Schools has banned corporal punishment at the decision of the Caddo Parish School Board in February 2021. The district decided the practice of paddling was an outdated one and that alternative means of addressing student discipline such as additional mental health services and training teachers and staff of adverse childhood experiences would be more effective. This unanimous decision went into effect immediately.”

Bossier Parish schools say they will change their policy if the law passes.

“Although Bossier Schools does not encourage corporal punishment, it has been used sparingly in recent years and only at the request of parents. Obviously, if the legislature passes Rep. Hilferty’s bill and prohibits corporal punishment in Louisiana, the Bossier Parish School Board would comply and no longer allow it to be administered.”

Under HB 649, school employees would be forbidden from hitting, paddling, striking, spanking, slapping, or using physical force against students that would cause pain or discomfort. Reasonable and necessary restraint to protect students and others from harm or remove a weapon or dangerous object is allowed under the law.

The bill calls for investigating employees accused of using corporal punishment in public schools. Local school boards would be required to offer an orientation course for parents with a copy and explanation of the policies for disciplining students.

A similar version of the bill failed to pass last year by 5 votes.

According to the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, there are 19 states where corporal punishment is still legal in schools.

Until 2017, The Office of Civil Rights collected data for detailed reports, including a breakdown of discipline, restraints/seclusion, harassment, and bullying in each school district, including Caddo and Bossier School Districts. The data shows that these punishments were used disproportionately on minority students. The biennial survey was supposed to occur in the 2019-20 school year but the Education Department decided to postpone data collection due to COVID. Each school district is responsible for self-reporting its data, so the accuracy cannot be verified.