Bill to stop paddling of disabled students clears first hurdle - WSMV News 4

Bill to stop paddling of disabled students clears first hurdle

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A measure that would protect the most vulnerable students moved one step forward on Tuesday.

The News 4 I-Team learned that lawmakers are looking out for more than just students.

A bill heard in committee on Tuesday would ban corporal punishment for students with disabilities.

PREVIOUS STORIES: Students with disabilities punished at higher rate | Lawmaker files bill to ban corporal punishment for students with disabilities | After I-Team investigation, state releases report on corporal punishment in schools

The proposal passed its first hurdle, but now without a caveat.

Lawmakers tacked on an amendment they said preserves the parental choice.

That caveat lets parents opt-in to corporal punishment, specifically for students with disabilities.

Currently administrators in many districts can paddle a student without parental consent, and in some places, parents need to opt out of the corporal punishment.

With that amendment in mind, lawmakers voted unanimously to push the proposal forward.

Rep. Jason Powell, D-Nashville, proposed the measure after the initial News 4 I-Team investigation.

On Tuesday, Carrie Hobbs Guiden, the director of ARC of Tennessee, talked about the impact of corporal punishment.

“A lot of times we’re just punishing them for something that’s part of their disability, and teachers have other tools they can use … that, in the long run, are much more effective than corporal punishment,” said Guiden.

“I feel really good about where we’re at with this legislation,” said Powell. “Obviously we’re going to continue to push this through the house and ban corporal punishment for students with disabilities.”

The News 4 I-Team unearthed the startling discovery that prompted this bill.

In Middle Tennessee, the I-Team found students with disabilities got paddled at a higher rate than their peers.

Last week findings by the State Comptroller echoed that sentiment statewide.

One of the recommendations was to ban the practice for some or all students with special needs.

On Tuesday, the bill advanced from the House Education Administration and Planning subcommittee. Now the measure moves to the full House Education Administration and Planning Committee.

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