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South Dakota Corporal Punishment in Public Schools Laws

Corporal punishment in public schools refers to the deliberate use of physical force or pain. This force is used as a form of punishment or discipline. This can include spanking, paddling, or other forms of physical discipline in lower grades or high school.

A Brief History of Corporal Punishment in American Public Schools

Corporal punishment has a long history in American public schools. Early educational practices relied on physical discipline to maintain order and obedience. But societal attitudes have evolved and changed about the use of physical force against children.

Awareness has grown concerning the potential harms of such punishment. Many are concerned about its potentially negative impact on a child's mental health or well-being. In some cases, corporal punishment may cross the line into child abuse and neglect. So, there has been a gradual shift away from its widespread use for many decades.

In the early 20th century, several states began to enact laws. These laws restricted or outright banned corporal punishment in schools. New Jersey and Massachusetts became the first states to ban corporal punishment. Now, states from California to New York have enacted similar laws. This movement was driven by concerns about the physical and psychological effects of such punishment. The U.S. Department of Education has also advocated for eliminating corporal punishment in schools. The Department emphasizes the importance of promoting positive and supportive disciplinary practices.

Despite these advancements, corporal punishment remains legal in some states. There are varying degrees of regulation nationwide. Some states have explicitly prohibited its use in public schools. Other state laws leave it up to individual school districts and communities to decide. Some states have banned corporal punishment in their schools. These states include California, Iowa, Maryland, and Maine. Some states have not expressly prohibited corporal punishment on the books. These include Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Louisiana, and Georgia. Others include Arizona, Missouri, Indiana, Kentucky, Kansas, Tennessee, Texas, and Wyoming.

Corporal Punishment in South Dakota Schools

South Dakota's use of physical force law is briefly summarized in the following table. See FindLaw's School Discipline Section for more articles.

Code Section

South Dakota Codified Laws § 13-32-2

South Dakota Codified Laws § 27B-8-42

Is Corporal Punishment Allowed?

Not prohibited; see below*

In Some Circumstances, Force Is Allowed

School officials can use physical force that is reasonable and necessary. They can use it for supervisory control over students. This authority also extends beyond the school premises during school functions or to school bus drivers.

*Corporal punishment in South Dakota public schools is a contentious subject. State law neither permits nor prohibits the use of corporal punishment for disciplinary purposes. While not expressly prohibited by state law, the decision to use physical punishment is left to the discretion of local school boards. This means that individual school districts may have their own policies on the use of corporal punishment. Physical force is authorized when reasonable and necessary. Superintendents, principals, supervisors, teachers, and their aides and assistants have the authority to use reasonable and necessary physical force for supervisory control over students.

School administrators and officials must carefully consider the implications of corporal punishment. The State Attorney General has cautioned the use of corporal punishment in schools in South Dakota. Federal law protects the civil rights of students with disabilities. Schools must ensure that any form of discipline does not discriminate against students. Schools must also preserve students' due process protections.

Note: State laws may change at any time. This is usually through the enactment of new legislation but sometimes through higher court decisions or other means. You may want to contact a South Dakota education law attorney for the most accurate assessment of your case. Consider conducting your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

Getting Legal Help With Corporal Punishment in South Dakota

Parents or legal guardians of school children may have concerns about corporal punishment. If your child has experienced physical force in the state of South Dakota, you may want to seek legal help. Legal help can help clarify state and federal laws regarding classroom management. Attorneys can help communicate with the school district or the state Board of Education. They can help advocate for your student's civil rights and improve the school climate overall.

Consult with a South Dakota education attorney about your case today.

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