BILL PROHIBITING CORPORAL PUNISHMENT ON STUDENTS WITH DISABILITIES FAILS IN THE HOUSE
News 9 - March 17, 2023 6:55 am
OKLAHOMA CITY –
An amendment to a current law, to ban corporal punishment in schools for students with disabilities, fails in the house.
Right now, parental permission is required in the districts that implement the consequence.
The Oklahoma PTA president, who’s also a parent of a student with special needs, said when a kid’s main focus is on not getting hit in class, they’re also not focused on learning.
Over the last two years across Oklahoma, a teacher’s hand has been raised to students hundreds of times.
“I know of 63 districts in 2021 and 2022, 455 times on special needs students,” said the author, Rep. John Tally.
Right now, if the parents say it’s okay, Oklahoma school staff can use corporal punishment. Representative John Tally’s bill, HB 1028, amends that law and prohibits school staff from the use of corporal punishment on students with disabilities. This bill defines corporal punishment as:
”the deliberate infliction of physical pain by hitting, paddling, spanking, slapping or any other physical force.”
The American Academy of Pediatrics have said researchers link corporal punishment to an increased risk for negative behavior, cognitive, psycho-social, and emotional outcomes,” said Rep. Anthony Moore.
But shy just six yes votes, the measure failed to pass the House.
“I’m flabbergasted at the vote this morning. They should be protecting our most vulnerable students, not harming them,” said Oklahoma PTA President, Lori Wathen.
Wathen is also a mom to a son with down syndrome. She said hitting kids as punishment, even with parent’s permission, teaches them the wrong lessons.
“It teaches kids it’s ok to hit. If someone makes me mad or they’re doing something I don’t like then it’s ok for me to hit them too. We want our kids to go to school with trust, not fear,” Wathen explained.
Representative Jim Olsen voted against HB 1028 and believes the opposite. He cited the Bible several times on the floor as backup.
“If you will not use the rod on a disobedient child, you do not love that child. That’s what the book said,” said Rep. Olsen.
Wathen said lawmakers should, instead, talk with advocates.
“They need to hear from parents, psychologists, behavioral experts, social workers, mental health providers all that say this is just a bad horrible idea,” said Wathen.
Representative Tally said he hopes to reconsider the vote.