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Lafayette County School District considers removing corporal punishment

During their monthly meeting on Monday the Lafayette County School Board discussed the possibility of removing one of their more polarizing forms of discipline. A request to remove corporal punishment was presented to the Board on behalf of school administrators. 

The request was submitted by assistant superintendent Patrick Robinson and discussed for several minutes by the Board. Robinson said school administrators would like to have corporal punishment removed as a disciplinary option. Corporal punishment is still allowed by Mississippi State law, but administrators feel the action is ineffective and they are concerned about any legal fallout that could occur. 

Students with disabilities and who have an Individualized Education Program (IEP) or a 504 Plan are not allowed to be disciplined with corporal punishment. If corporal punishment is administered on such a student the school district could be at risk for a lawsuit. A 504 Plan is a plane developed to ensure that a child who has a disability identified under the law and is attending an elementary or secondary educational institution receives accommodations that will ensure their academic success and access to the learning environment.  

Board member Mike Gooch stated his support to keep corporal punishment in the policy and that the responsibility of making sure it is not used on the wrong student falls on school administrators. 

“That’s up to the administrators to make sure that does not happen,” Gooch said during the meeting. “Just having it in the policy and some students knowing they might get paddled might keep them from doing things they shouldn’t. I know it did for me.” 

The idea of removing corporal punishment was supported by fellow Board member Dr. Judith Thompson agreed if administrators did not feel comfortable with it in the policy then it should be considered for removal. 

When asked the last time corporal punishment was used at Lafayette High School, Robinson told the Board it had been at least a decade, but it had been used in lower grade levels during the 2018-19 school year. 

“This past school year it was used about eight or nine times (in the elementary schools),” Robinson said. 

The other forms of discipline that do not involve any physical action taken include in- and out-of-school suspension as well as detention. No action was taken during the meeting but will be up for a vote at the Board’s July 1 meeting.