In A Flash

Another attempt to ban corporal punishment in Louisiana public schools fails

By: - May 5, 2022 5:30 pm
child facing a corner

For the second year in a row, a proposal to ban corporal punishment in public schools failed in the Louisiana House of Representatives. There is a chance Rep. Stephanie Hilferty, R-New Orleans, could bring her bill back up for consideration. (Canva image)

The Louisiana House once again struck down a bill to ban corporal punishment in public schools. 

House Bill 649, authored by Rep. Stephanie Hilferty, R-New Orleans, would have outlawed “the use of physical force that causes pain or discomfort to discipline a student” in Louisiana public schools. 

Correctional employees are not allowed to hit juvenile or adult offenders in the state’s detention facilities, Hilferty said, so it makes no sense that schools are allowed to hit children. She sponsored the same proposal last year, with opponents labeling it government overreach.

A similar discussion around parental rights versus government overreach took place Thursday on the House floor.Rep. Danny McCormick, R-Oil City, said most of public schools that use corporal punishment need parents’ permission. “I don’t think we should take the parental rights away from those parents that decided that their child can be disciplined (by spanking),” he said.

Rep. Lance Harris, R-Alexandria and chair of the House Education Committee, opposed the bill last year but voted for it this year. He attributed his change to an incident at school in his parish that now faces litigation for a spanking “that got out of hand.”

“It makes sense in these days and times that we act on this, so that we don’t expose these school districts any more than we are to ligition or anything else,” he said.

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Harris also disagreed that the bill takes away from parental choice because parents are still allowed to discipline their child at home.

The bill failed in a 51-42 vote, needing 53 votes to pass. A dozen House members were absent, and Hilferty can bring her proposal back for reconsideration if she gets more support.

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JC Canicosa
JC Canicosa

JC Canicosa is an award-winning journalist at The Louisiana Illuminator. Canicosa has previous experience at Investigate-TV and The Loyola Maroon and earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Loyola University New Orleans. At Loyola, he was the senior staff writer at The Maroon and the president of the school's chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. Off the clock, Canicosa enjoys playing basketball, watching movies and dabbling in comedy writing.

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