Bill to ban corporal punishment for disabled students headed to - WSMV News 4

Bill to ban corporal punishment for disabled students headed to governor

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A measure that would ban corporal punishment for students with disabilities is one step closer to becoming law.

The bill passed the Tennessee Senate in a 28-0 vote on Tuesday, clearing its final legislative hurdle before heading to the governor’s desk.

The legislation was prompted by a News 4 I-Team investigation that found students with disabilities at 60 Midstate schools received corporal punishment at a higher rate than their peers without disabilities.

Last year the Tennessee Comptroller of the Treasury opened a separate investigation into the matter. The report, released in March 2018, confirmed many of the findings first uncovered by the I-Team.

The review discovered disparities in public schools across the state.

Rep. Jason Powell, D-Nashville and Sen. Sara Kyle, D-Memphis, sponsored the legislation.

The bill passed both chambers with an amendment that would allow the parents of students with special needs to opt-in to corporal punishment if the school board allows the practice.

Previously, parents in many districts needed to opt out of the practice.

The bill requires the governor’s signature before becoming law.

“The governor is deferred to the will of the legislature on this bill as amended,” said Jennifer Donnals, a spokeswoman for Gov. Bill Haslam. “As he does with all bills that are sent to his desk, he will review it in its final form before taking action.”

Last year, when asked if he supported the use of corporal punishment on students with disabilities, Gov. Haslam said he did not.

“It’s definitely time to dig into what’s causing that and a change would feel appropriate from everything I know,” Gov. Haslam said in 2017.

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