Virginia Corporal Punishment in Public Schools Laws

Corporal Punishment in Virginia's Public Schools: Overview

The use of physical force, such as spanking or paddling, as a means of discipline is referred to as "corporal punishment." Most states, including Virginia, now prohibit the use of corporal punishment in public schools. Those that continue to use the practice typically allow parents to opt out. However, Virginia law allows "incidental, minor, or reasonable" physical contact to maintain order and control in the classroom.

While the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 1977 that public schools may lawfully spank or paddle students as a means of discipline, Virginia banned the use of corporal punishment in public schools in 1989.

What are the Exceptions to Virginia's Prohibition of Corporal Punishment?

Virginia statute explicitly states that corporal punishment is prohibited in public schools, but it does allow for some limited exceptions. The law also says that "due deference" will given to judgments made at the time by the teachers or principals involved. So when is it okay to use physical force against a public school student in Virginia?

The law states that the ban on corporal punishment does not apply to the use of:

  • "Incidental, minor, or reasonable physical contact" necessary to maintain order and control in the classroom or school grounds.
  • "Reasonable and necessary force" that may be required to quell a disturbance (a fight, for example) or to remove a student from the situation.
  • "Reasonable and necessary force" to prevent a student from harming him or herself.
  • "Reasonable and necessary force" to defend oneself or others.
  • "Reasonable and necessary force" to gain control of a dangerous weapon.

Learn more about Virginia corporal punishment in public school laws below. See FindLaw's School Discipline section for additional articles and resources.

Code Section 22.1-279.1
Punishment Allowed Corporal punishment prohibited, but "incidental, minor or reasonable physical contact or other actions" permitted to maintain order and control; reasonable and necessary force permitted to quell a disturbance or remove a child to prevent harm, in self-defense, to obtain possession of weapon, etc.
Circumstances Allowable -

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

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