Legislation to put an end to corporal punishment in Kentucky's public schools, would have little effect locally.
House Bill 22 would prohibit any school district employee or non-faculty coach from using corporal punishment - including but not limited to striking, spanking, paddling or shaking - to discipline public school students. However, Caldwell County Schools Superintendent Nate Huggins said the local district has already eliminated corporal punishment.
Bill sponsor Rep. Steve Riley, R-Glasgow, who is a retired state educator, said experience has taught him that corporal punishment "is not an effective form of discipline. The purpose of discipline in schools and other places is to change behavior in a positive way, and research shows (corporal punishment) does not do that."
If the legislation that now rests with the Senate after being approved by a 65-17 vote in the House is passed, none of Kentucky's 172 school districts could utilize corporal punishment. Currently, fewer than 20 still use the form of punishment.
The last use of corporal punishment in Caldwell County schools came in 2017-18, when only one incident was reported. Prior to that, it had been used sparingly since 2003-04, when 147 incidents were reported, according to a database from Kentucky Youth Advocates. The most recent multiple-incident school year was in 2011-12, when only a half-dozen incidents were recorded.
House Education Committee Chair Regina Huff, R-Williamsburg, who voted for the measure, said alternative punishment is just as effective. The former special education teacher said schools have less traumatic forms of discipline at their disposal when needed.
Rep. Lynn Bechler, R-Marion, voted against the measure.