Capital Clicks

House drops corporal punishment expansion from school behavior bill

By: - June 10, 2020 6:35 pm
Redhead teenage male bullying mixed race teenage boy in the corridor at school.

Are parents and school boards too busy talking about masks and book censorship to focus on students’ behavior? (Stock photo by Getty Images)

The Iowa House on Wednesday stripped language dealing with corporal punishment from a bill aimed at addressing incidents of violence and disruptive behavior in the classroom.

Rep. Mary Mascher, D-Iowa City, said lawmakers were responding to a concern that the legislation would disproportionately affect minority students. “Many of you have been getting the hundreds of emails from Iowans across the state who had enormous concerns about expanding our corporal punishment language in the code,” she said.

A list of demands from Des Moines Black Lives Matter, delivered to lawmakers Wednesday, included voting down Senate File 2360. The bill also appropriates money for therapeutic classrooms and includes protocols and reporting requirements for situations when a teacher must clear a classroom to prevent injury to a student.

Corporal punishment is illegal but the bill approved by the Senate specified that school employees may physically touch a student if they are “relocating” someone who is not listening to directions or causing a distraction. It would have specified that physical contact with a student isn’t considered corporal punishment if “in the opinion of a reasonable person at the time of the incident,” the contact was necessary to protect others.

The House voted unanimously for an amendment that eliminates those provisions.

The House also eliminated provisions granting immunity from criminal and civil liability or disciplinary action to school employees who come into physical contact with a student.

The bill returns to the Senate for consideration of the proposed changes.

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