Wyoming lawmakers have rejected a bill that aimed to remove civil and criminal protections for teachers who spank kids.
Senate File 47 would have repealed a portion of state law that protects teachers and school administrators from being sued or criminally charged if they subject students to corporal punishment.
It failed its first House vote 47-12 on Tuesday. Had it passed, school staffers could be charged with crimes or sued for using physical discipline.
Not Specific Enough
But the bill didn’t define corporal punishment.
Rep. Barry Crago, R-Buffalo, worried aloud that the bill could jeopardize well-meaning teachers who break up student fights.
“Let’s say a teacher is in her classroom, she runs out in the hallway and there’s two kids fighting,” said Crago. “And she grabs one of them, throws them up against one wall and another one against another wall and says, ‘knock it off’ – is that going to qualify as punishment?”
Crago said legislators may be unknowingly exposing their teachers “back home” to inappropriate legal action.
Rep. Karlee Provenza, D-Laramie, countered by saying that in the committee hearing on SF 47, lawmakers discussed teachers’ de-escalation training regarding student fights.
“We didn’t talk in detail about what that (scenario) would be considered. That’s more of a de-escalation technique, where corporal punishment is quite the opposite,” said Provenza.
Crago said that reassurance wasn’t enough; the definitions should be written clearly in the law.
“Where is that defined? Just so I can lay my eyes on that definition,” he said. “And I’m not saying we need corporal punishment in schools.
“What I’m saying is, I want to make sure our teachers are protected from (being sued for) doing everyday things they actually need to do.”