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Tennessee State Capitol (WSMV file photo)

It is now illegal to paddle students with disabilities in Tennessee.

Gov. Bill Haslam signed the bill into law on Thursday, nearly a year after a News 4 I-Team investigation first uncovered how often certain students receive corporal punishment.

Under the new law, parents can opt into corporal punishment if they choose to do so. Previously, many school districts required parents to opt out of the practice.

Last year, the I-Team found students with disabilities at 60 Midstate schools received corporal punishment at a higher rate than their peers without disabilities.

The Tennessee Comptroller of the Treasury then opened a separate investigation into the matter at the request of two state senators.

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.

Last month Gov. Haslam signed another bill into law, requiring school districts to report corporal punishment data to the state Department of Education.

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