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Alabama Corporal Punishment in Public Schools Laws

The term corporal punishment refers to the use of physical force, such as spanking or slapping, as a means of discipline or to control a potentially dangerous situation. Every state has its own approach to the use of corporal punishment in public schools, from outright bans to more localized control. States that allow corporal punishment in public schools usually provide statutory details of what is considered reasonable, including the circumstances in which it's used. But states that don't allow the practice typically make an exception for emergency situations.

See FindLaw's School Discipline section for related articles and resources, including School Discipline History.

What Are Alabama's Laws on Corporal Punishment in Public Schools?

Alabama legislation passed in 1995 allows the use of corporal punishment in public schools, but directs local school boards to adopt their own codes of conduct and disciplinary procedures. The statute doesn't provide much detail, but prohibits any "excessive force or cruel and unusual punishment."

Code Section 16-1-24.1
Punishment Allowed Local school boards to adopt code for conduct and discipline of students.
Circumstances Allowable Except in the case of excessive force or cruel and unusual punishment, no certified or noncertified employee of the State Board of Education or any local board of education shall be civilly liable for any action carried out in conformity with state law and system or school rules regarding the control, discipline, suspension, and expulsion of students.

Note: State laws are constantly changing, usually through either new legislation, ballot initiatives, or court rulings. Make sure you contact an Alabama education attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

Examples of Corporal Punishment Policies in Alabama

The majority of public school districts in Alabama use corporal punishment as a regular part of the discipline process, often with the use of a wooden paddle. Most of these policies discourage the use paddling as the first response and allow parents to opt-out. Below are some examples of corporal punishment policies in Alabama:

  • Alexander City Schools: A maximum of "three licks administered to a student's buttocks" is reserved as a last resort before a student is suspended or expelled. A parent may ask that their child not be subject to corporal punishment, but the principal may use it without parental consent under some circumstances.
  • Autagua County School System: Corporal punishment is allowed in elementary and secondary school for minor offenses, limited to "three licks to the buttocks." Refusal to be paddled can result in suspension or expulsion.
  • Brewton City Schools: Only the principal or assistant principal may apply corporal punishment, and parents may excuse their children from physical punishment through written request.

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