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Washington 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. Many states still allow public school teachers and administrators to use corporal punishment. In 1977, the U.S. Supreme Court confirmed the legality of disciplinary corporal punishment in public schools.

Corporal Punishment in Washington State

Corporal punishment means intentionally causing physical pain to a student. It was outlawed in Washington in 1994. The ban on corporal punishment does not include situations where a school staff person uses physical force necessary to maintain order or to prevent a student from harming himself or herself, other students, school staff, or property.

What Types Of Punishment Are Allowed In Public Schools?

Teachers and school administrators can use a variety of methods to discipline students. Here are some examples:

  • Send a student home early;
  • Require a conference with the teacher or Principal;
  • Refer the student for outside help such as counseling or a drug and alcohol evaluation;
  • Impose an in-school suspension or detention that separates the student from other students;
  • Immediately remove the student from school on an emergency expulsion;
  • Suspend the student for a certain number of days;
  • Expel the student for an indefinite number of days;
  • Call the police or make a referral to juvenile court if a crime is alleged to have been committed.

What Agency Can I Contact For More Information Or To Make A Complaint?

The Office of the Education Ombuds (OEO) resolves complaints, disputes, and problems between families and Washington State 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.

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

Code Section 28A-150-300
Punishment Allowed Use of corporal punishment is prohibited.
Circumstances Allowable -

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

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