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Kentucky Corporal Punishment in Public Schools Laws

The use of spanking, paddling, or other means of physical force as punishment or to control a dangerous situation is referred to as corporal punishment. Each state is free to decide whether public school teachers and administrators may use corporal punishment, with quite a bit of variance. Some states give local school boards the authority to adopt or reject the use of physical force in schools, usually allowing the parents to opt-out if they believe it is inappropriate. Schools may not use force which causes serious injuries (either physical or psychological) under any circumstances.

Corporal Punishment in Kentucky Public Schools: Overview

The use of corporal punishment in Kentucky's public schools is mostly limited to paddling students on the buttocks, primarily as a last resort. State law is relatively vague on this matter, but supports the use of physical force to hold students to a "strict account for their conduct." The criminal code clarifies that the use of physical force must be used in a "reasonable" manner that doesn't create a risk of death, serious injury, disfigurement, extremes pain or extreme mental distress.

Specific regulations, including parental consent and requirements for witnesses, are enforced at the local level. For instance, Bath County School District requires the use of wooden paddles that are no longer than 30 inches, no wider than five inches, and no thicker than one inch. Johnson County School District requires that there be two witnesses to any instance of corporal punishment.

The chart below lists additional information about corporal punishment in public schools and relevant Kentucky law. See FindLaw's School Discipline section for related articles and resources, including School Discipline History .

Code Section

161.180, 503.110 (Use of force by person with responsibility for care, discipline, or safety of others)  

Punishment Allowed
  • Hold pupils to a "strict account for their conduct on school premises." (161.180)
  • Use of physical force by a public teacher or school administrator is justifiable if used to "maintain reasonable discipline in a school [or] class" and the force used does not create "substantial risk of causing death, serious physical injury, disfigurement, extreme pain, or extreme mental distress." (503.110)  
Circumstances Allowable -

Note: State laws are always subject to change at any time, often through the issuance of higher court opinions (case law) or the passage of new legislation. Although FindLaw makes every effort to maintain the accuracy of these pages, you may also want to contact a Kentucky education attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

Research the Law

Laws on Corporal Punishment in Kentucky Public Schools: Related Resources

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