North Carolina Corporal Punishment in Public Schools Laws

The use of spanking, paddling, or other types of physical force as a means of discipline is referred to as corporal punishment. Many states have moved away from corporal punishment in schools, but North Carolina law explicitly allows teachers and principals to use "reasonable force" as a means of discipline. In fact, North Carolina corporal punishment in public schools law does not allow a local school board to prohibit the practice.

The types of corporal punishment allowed in North Carolina public schools are listed below and links to additional resources follow this article. You may also see FindLaw's School Discipline section to learn more.

Applicable North Carolina General Statutes Code Sections

  • 115C-288: Powers and Duties of Principals
  • 115C-390.3: Reasonable Force
  • 115C-390.4: Corporal Punishment
  • 115C-391.4: Permissible Use Seclusion and Restraint.
Individuals Permitted to Discipline Students

Principals, teachers, and other school personnel.

Reasonable Force Authorized individuals may use reasonable force in the exercise of lawful authority to restrain or correct pupils and maintain order. Local school boards may not prohibit the use of such force but are allowed to adopt policies governing the administration of corporal punishment.
Corporal Punishment

If a school board permits corporal punishment, the following policies must be adopted:

  • Other students may not be present during the punishment;
  • Only a principal, assistant principal, or teacher may administer the punishment and it must be in the presence of one of those authorized adults;
  • Notification of the punishment must be given to the student’s parents;
  • Record of the corporal punishment must be kept at the school;
  • No excessive force may be used (excessive force is that which causes an injury requiring medical attention beyond simple first aid).
  • Corporal punishment may not be used on a student whose parents have stated in writing that corporal punishment may not be administered; and
  • Each year the local school board must send a report to the State Board of Education regarding the number of times corporal punishment was used.

As a parent it’s important to understand your rights and those of your child who is attending public school in North Carolina. For questions about corporal punishment or other conduct by school officials, you may want to contact a North Carolina education attorney

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