Louisiana House refuses to end paddling in public schools

Louisiana

FILE – In this Monday, April 16, 2018, file photo, Rep. Jack McFarland, R-Winnfield, center, asks questions about the next year’s budget proposal while Reps. Tony Bacala, R-Prairieville, left, and Steve Pylant, R-Winnsboro, listen during a hearing of the House Appropriations Committee, in Baton Rouge, La. The latest bid to boost Louisiana’s gasoline tax has ended without a vote. McFarland said Thursday, March 25, 2021, he’s shelving the tax hike proposal ahead of the legislative session that starts April 12. (AP Photo/Melinda Deslatte, File)

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — 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 New Orleans Republican Rep. Stephanie Hilferty, while 49 voted against it Tuesday night. The bill needed 53 votes to pass.

The Advocate reports that critics said the measure would usurp the rights of local school districts to decide the issue for themselves. Republican Rep. Larry Bagley, a former teacher from Stonewall, 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 impact on children. She said male students and Black students are more likely to be targets of such punishment. She noted the state bans hitting youngsters in the juvenile justice system.

Rep. Danny McCormick, a Republican from Oil City, said banning corporal punishment could pave the way for the state to curb the rights of parents to discipline their children at home.

Current law allows the state’s 69 school districts to decide whether to use corporal punishment. The Advocate reports that 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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