State Superintendent of Education
Michael R. White
State of Alabama Department of Education
Office of General Counsel
5107 Gordon Persons Building
PO Box 302101
Montgomery, Alabama 36130-2101
Telephone (334) 242-1899 - FAX (334) 242-0982
August 28, 1997
Mr. Jordan Riak, Executive Director
Parents and Teachers Against Violence in Education
Post Office Box 1033
Alamo, CA 94505-7033
Re: Corporal Punishment
Dear Mr. Riak:
Dr. Richardson requested that I respond to your letter dated August 14, 1997, concerning corporal punishment in public schools in the state of Alabama. Ala. Code §§ 16-28A-1 through -5 (1975), requires each local board of education to develop a written policy on student discipline and behavior. Pursuant to this statute all teachers and administrators in each classroom are expected to maintain order and discipline and are thereby given the authority and responsibility to use appropriate means of discipline, up to and including corporal punishment, consistent with local board of education written policies.
Ala. Code § 16-1-24.1 (1975) requires local boards to adopt and make available to all teachers, school personnel, students, and parents/guardians, at the beginning of the school year, a code of student conduct developed in consultation with teachers, school personnel, students, and parents/guardians. The code shall include, but not be limited to, specific grounds for disciplinary action and procedures to be followed for acts requiring discipline. Consistent with these state laws, corporal punishment should only be administered in compliance with a written discipline policy adopted by a local board of education.
Local boards of education monitor established policies and any violations which are reported are investigated and appropriate discipline action is taken against the teacher/administrator if findings of any wrongdoing exist. If a teacher or teacher certificate applicant (male or female) is suspected of any misconduct, the state law, Ala. Code § 16-23-5 (1975), and the Alabama Administrative Code gives the State Superintendent of Education the authority to revoke any Alabama teacher certificate when the holder has been guilty of immoral conduct or unbecoming or indecent behavior as well as the authority to refuse to issue, to renew, to suspend, or to recall a certificate for just cause. According to the Alabama Administrative Code, all initial applicants for a teacher certificate in the state of Alabama must meet all certification requirements including obtaining a background clearance through a fingerprint review conducted by the Alabama Bureau of Investigation (ABI). This review is accomplished in order to determine if the applicant has a criminal history and must be done prior to the issuance of a certificate or license. The fingerprint card remains on file with the ABI as long as the certificate or license is valid. Thus, if a teacher is guilty of misconduct with regard to corporal punishment, appropriate action can be taken against his/her teacher license.
I hope this sufficiently answers your questions regarding corporal punishment in Alabama. If you have any questions, you may contact me at (334) 242-1899.
Michael R. White General Counsel
cc: Dr. Ed Richardson