Tennessee lawmaker introduces bill that would ban paddling

NASHVILLE (WATE) – Tennessee state legislators introduced a new bill that would indefinitely remove paddling as an option in Tennessee schools.

Democratic Rep. Jason Powell of Nashville said he was shocked corporal punishment is still allowed in Tennessee law because it’s not an option in his area. He said the issue came to his attention when several Tennesseans wrote to him about issues that interested them.

Powell said he believes the inconsistency across the state when it comes to paddling, spanking, etc. is at the heart of the issue.

Several schools in East Tennessee including Anderson, Blount, Hamblen, Knox and Roane counties have already banned corporal punishment, but least 15 East Tennessee counties still have it as an option.

Rep. Jason Powell


Scott County Director of Schools Bill Hall said corporal punishment is only used as a last resort. He said he has only used it once in his four years as a director.

“It gets to the point where we have exhausted every disciplinary measure that we have,” said Hall. He says even though corporal punishment is not commonly used in the district, it is an effective tool to keep on the books.

Hall said the last student paddled in Scott County Schools was one year ago and the child’s parents were involved.

“We look at how many discipline issues we’ve had, what we’ve done,” said Hall, adding that the Scott County School System always documents every step.

Even though several East Tennessee counties, including Scott County, give parents the opportunity to opt out of corporal punishment, several parents told WATE 6 On Your Side that that corporal punishment should be taken off the books everywhere.

“I feel like I’m the person that should only be allowed to discipline my kids, because they’re my kids,” said Scott County parent, Katlin Lewis.

If the bill passes, Tennessee would be the 32nd state to ban corporal punishment in schools.

School policies for corporal punishment:

  • Anderson County – Not allowed
  • Blount County – Not allowed
  • Campbell County – Allowed – parents can opt out
  • Claiborne County – Allowed
  • Cocke County – Allowed with parent permission
  • Cumberland County – Allowed with parent permission
  • Fentress County – Allowed
  • Grainger County – Allowed –
  • Greene County – Allowed with parent permission
  • Hamblen County –Not allowed
  • Hancock County –Waiting on a call back
  • Hawkins County -Allowed
  • Jefferson County – Allowed
  • Knox County – Not allowed
  • Loudon County – Allowed
  • McMinn County – Allowed with parent permission
  • Monroe County –Allowed with parent permission
  • Morgan County – Allowed with parent permission
  • Roane County – Not allowed
  • Scott County – Allowed
  • Union County – Allowed with parent permission

Note: WATE 6 On Your Side has not heard from Sevier County Schools

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