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South Dakota Corporal Punishment in Public Schools Laws

Corporal punishment refers to the use of physical force -- such as slapping, spanking, or hitting -- as a means of discipline. There is no prohibition at the federal level of corporal punishment in all public and private schools, so it is generally up to the states to regulate or prohibit the practice.

In 1977, the US Supreme Court found that the Eighth Amendment, which prohibits cruel and unusual punishment, did not apply to school students, and that teachers could punish children without parental permission. Corporal punishment is unlawful in public schools in 31 states and the District of Columbia, though in some of these there is no explicit prohibition.

South Dakota's Corporal Punishment Law

Although South Dakota law does allow the use of physical force in maintaining discipline in schools, the parameters of the acceptable level of force have not been established. Most schools have developed policies and procedures on the use of physical force and the degree of physical force allowed.

Reasonable Force

However, a teacher or other person entrusted with the care or supervision of a child, is justified in using a "reasonable degree of force" against any such child who creates a disturbance when and to the extent that he reasonably believes it necessary to control the disturbing behavior or to remove a person from the scene of such disturbance.

Private Schools

South Dakota's laws on corporal punishment are only limited to public schools. This means that some private schools may be allowed to use corporal punishment more freely.

Because South Dakota does not have a specific law that allows private schools to use corporal punishment, parents may have to consent to this form of punishment through a waiver when the child enrolls with the school. However, just because a parent signs a waiver does not mean that excessive or severe forms of corporal punishment are always allowed.

What State Agency Can I Contact For More Information?

The South Dakota Board of Education resolves complaints, disputes, and problems between families and elementary and secondary public schools in all areas that affect student learning. Please contact that office for more information or consider speaking to an attorney who specializes in education law.

South Dakota's corporal punishment in public school law is briefly summarized in the following table. See find law's School Discipline section for additional articles.

Code Section 13-32-2
Punishment Allowed Use of physical force that is reasonable and necessary for supervisory control over students.
Circumstances Allowed? Not defined

Note: State laws are constantly changing -- contact a South Dakota education attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(so) you are researching.

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