CHEYENNE – Wyoming is one of 19 states nationwide that allow schools to paddle students.
But it doesn’t appear that many in the state use the practice, according to corporal punishment data collected by the U.S. Department of Education and the Center for Effective Discipline.
“It’s not even a discussion,” Laramie County School District 1 assistant superintendent of instruction Tracey Kinney said. “It seems antiquated as a disciplinary measure in schools, so I don’t hear it discussed.”
According to data gathered by the Office of Civil Rights and the U.S. Department of Education, no Wyoming students were paddled in 2006, the last time statewide data was released. Nationally, there were 223,190 students disciplined that way that year.
Since the turn of the century, the largest number of students in Wyoming to experience corporal punishment in a school was eight in 2000.
Nationally, there were 342,038 students paddled that year.
The practice of corporal punishment, or paddling, isn’t specifically mentioned in school handbooks or discipline policies in either LCSD1 or LCSD2. But both districts do give examples of what punishments might be used if students misbehave.
LCSD1 rewrote its policies last year, creating the district’s elementary progressive discipline matrix and the secondary discipline matrix.
“We don’t exercise corporal punishment,” Kinney said.
At the elementary level, responses to misbehavior include having to miss recess, talking with the principal or suspension. The response depends on the level of the behavior, according to the matrix.
“(Paddling) seems kind of counterintuitive, especially if you have a youngster being physically aggressive with another student,” Kinney said.
For older students, punishments include things like a warning, community service, loss of privileges, in- or out-of-school suspension and expulsion, according to the matrix.
In LCSD2, school handbooks point to discipline responses like students being sent out of class, suspended and expelled.
State statute says that teachers and administrators will be “immune from civil and criminal liability in the exercise of reasonable corporal discipline.” But it also has to be authorized by a district’s policy.
LCSD1 Board of Trustees Chairman Brian Farmer said the topic hasn’t been a discussion since he’s been on the board.
It also hasn’t been a recent topic in LCSD2, Board of Trustees Chairwoman Esther Davison said.
“I’ve been on the school board for five years, and there’s never been a discussion,” she said.
Prior to being on the board, she was a teacher in the district for 21 years, she said. It wasn’t a topic during that time.
“I don’t think we’ve ever touched a kid. I don’t think that’s done,” LCSD2 Superintendent Jack Cozort said. “I just don’t see most districts doing things of that sort anymore.”