A school district in Texas approved a measure that would allow paddling as a form of punishment starting in the upcoming academic year.
The Three Rivers Independent School District, roughly halfway between Corpus Christi and San Antonio, will allow corporal punishment only if a parent approves. Students would receive one paddling for minor incidents like not following classroom rules.
District trustees voted 6-0 on the motion, with one trustee absent. The policy states only a campus’ behavior coordinator or principal can administer the paddling at their discretion.
A paddle, expected to be wood, will be used to administer the corporal punishment.
Those registering students for the upcoming school year can opt out by signing a document attached to the school’s registration packet. They may also submit a signed written letter addressing the principal.
“If the parent is not comfortable with it, that’s the end of the discussion,” said the school district’s superintendent Mary Springs.
Corporal punishment is defined by the Texas Classroom Teachers Association (TCTA) as “deliberate infliction of physical pain by hitting, paddling, spanking, slapping or any other physical force used as a means of discipline.”
Three Rivers Elementary School’s campus behavior coordinator, Andrew Amaro, pitched the paddling idea to district leaders earlier this year. Amaro, a Three Rivers native, said he hopes the new disciplinary measure will have a more immediate effect on students than do In School Suspension or detention.
Amaro recalls being disciplined with a paddle during his time as a Three Rivers ISD student.
“I believe it worked,” Amaro said. “It was an immediate response for me. I knew that if I got in trouble with a teacher and I was disrespectful, whatever the infraction was, I knew I was going to get a swat by the principal.”
Texas is among 15 states that expressly permit corporal punishment.
A 1977 Supreme Court case, Ingraham v. Wright, found that paddling in schools does not violate students’ rights,. Specifically the Eighth Amendment’s “cruel and unusual punishment” clause and the Fourteenth Amendment’s right to due process.