Dear Mr. Riak:
Commissioner of Education Eric J. Smith asked the Office of Safe Schools to respond to your letter dated June 27, 2009, in which you had questions regarding corporal punishment in the Florida public school system. We would like to thank you for contacting the Florida Department of Education.
It is important to understand that Article IX of the Florida Constitution assigns the responsibility of operating, controlling, and supervising the public schools within the school district to the district school board and school superintendent. This is referred to as “local control.” The role of the Department of Education (DOE) is to provide leadership, support, and technical assistance to school districts as well as to assist in resolving local issues by providing contact information for local school district officials who can best address local-level concerns.
Discipline plans and codes of conduct including corporal punishment are to be created in accordance with Florida Statutes by each school district and tailored to fit the specific needs of that district. The district is then responsible for training their staff on the implementation of such plans and codes. Furthermore, section 1006.07, Florida Statutes states the district school board may prohibit the use of corporal punishment, if the district school board adopts or has adopted a written program of alternative control or discipline. Ultimately, it is a district decision if corporal punishment is implemented as a form of discipline and not a state level decision.
Below is the web link for the report on “Trends in Discipline and the Decline in the Use of Corporal Punishment” that was made available in January 2008. This document gives an overview of recent trends in Florida schools and the use of corporal punishment as well as makes comparisons with other forms of discipline used in schools throughout Florida.
Additionally, new guidelines were passed within the 2009 legislative session concerning district school boards that choose to utilize the corporal punishment option as a form of discipline. Beginning July 1, 2009,
“A district school board having a policy authorizing the use of corporal punishment as a form of discipline shall review its policy on corporal punishment once every 3 years during a district school board meeting held pursuant to s. 1001.372. The district school board shall take public testimony at the board meeting. If such board meeting is not held in accordance with this subparagraph, the portion of the district school board’s policy authorizing corporal punishment expires.”We hope this information is helpful and should you have any other questions or concerns, feel free to contact Aimee Mallini, Program Specialist with the Florida Department of Education’s Office of Safe Schools by phone at (850) 245-9977 or via e-mail at Aimee.Mallini@fldoe.org.
Joe Davis, Chief
Bureau of Family and Community Outreach