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Maryland Corporal Punishment in Public Schools Laws

Corporal punishment in school can be a delicate issue and Maryland's legislators clearly made an effort to address both sides of this issue. Maryland law both prohibits corporal punishment and permits schools to establish rules to create an "atmosphere of order and discipline necessary for effective learning."

To be clear, Maryland does not permit physical discipline, such as paddling or spanking, in public schools. This is in line with a majority of states that have also banned corporal punishment in public schools. But a careful reading of the statutes shows that Maryland educators are likely able to step in to maintain peace, order, and safety in the schools.

Corporal Punishment Statute in Maryland

Maryland’s corporal punishment in public schools statute is highlighted in the table below.

Code Section Educ. 7-306
Punishment Allowed Corporal punishment may not be administered to discipline student.
Circumstances Allowable Disciplinary measures deemed appropriate to maintain "atmosphere of order" may be permitted by county school boards

More specifically, Maryland Education Code § 7–306 states that:

"[A] principal, vice principal, or other employee may not administer corporal punishment to discipline a student in a public school in the State."

It goes on to state that the Maryland Board of Education shall:

"Establish guidelines that define a State code of discipline for all public schools with standards of conduct and consequences for violations of the standards; and

Assist each county board with the implementation of the guidelines...

[E]ach county board shall adopt regulations designed to create and maintain within the schools under its jurisdiction the atmosphere of order and discipline necessary for effective learning."

Therefore, it's possible for each county to have slightly different rules and regulations on how to maintain order and discipline, within the frameworks of the statute.

Corporate Punishment through the Years

The United States has had a long history of public school discipline, going from one extreme to the other as our societal attitudes toward corporal punishment have shifted back and forth. Starting with public schools in the middle of the nineteenth century, American educators generally relied on European models of discipline that suggested that the best learning occurred when paired with encouragement and kindness.

In the 2000s, media coverage shifted to focus on juveniles committing serious crimes on and off school property. Many then advocated for more stringent student control, popularly referred to as “zero tolerance” policies.

Recently, many modern administrators have sought to help students understand and change their behavior rather than handing out customary punitive consequences for violating school rules. This movement towards working with students to change their own behavior.

Maryland Corporal Punishment in Public Schools Laws: Related Resources

State education laws can vary based on district and are subject to change. If you would like to consult with an attorney regarding an education case, you can contact a Maryland education attorney in your area. You can also visit FindLaw's School Discipline section for more articles and resources.

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