Some Florida school districts still use corporal punishment, choosing to spank misbehaving students with paddles. But at Holmes County High School in Bonifay, administrators have gone one step further. They have students make the paddles in woodshop class.
Though some may be offended by this practice, it's completely legal. School corporal punishment may have been banned in most of the country, but Florida is one of 19 states that still allows the practice.
The widespread ban has made wooden paddles difficult to find, principal Eddie Dixon told StateImpact, a joint project between local public media and NPR. To fix the problem, he has the woodshop instructor teach students to make paddles. They're even given specific dimensions.
There has been some movement at the federal level to implement a nationwide ban on School corporal punishment, but there seems to be little political backing. As such, states are free to continue the practice for as long as they wish.
However, this does not mean public schools can inflict physical punishment whenever and however they want. Administrators and teachers are still subject to the state's child abuse laws. Therefore, they must generally only use corporal punishment under reasonable circumstances, with a reasonable instrument, on a reasonable body part, and with a reasonable amount of force.
In other words, schools can have students make paddles, and they can use those paddles to administer a few mediocre smacks. But if they're not careful, an act of school corporal punishment can end up in criminal or civil court.
- At one Florida school, students make the paddles used in spankings (MSNBC)
- School Discipline History (FindLaw)
- Teacher's Aide Taped Kinder Student's Mouth Shut (FindLaw's Law & Daily Life)