When a teacher, principal, or other school administrator uses physical force as a means of discipline, it is referred to as corporal punishment. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 1977 that the use of "reasonable" corporal punishment in public schools is legal. While it once was the norm in classrooms across the country, most states have prohibited the use of corporal punishment in public schools.
The state of Minnesota does not permit the use of corporal punishment in public schools. However, teachers and other school officials may use a force when necessary to protect him or herself, or another student, from bodily harm. For instance, a teacher who wrestles a violent student to the floor in order to protect other students is acting within the limits of the law even if that student is injured in the process (but again, it must be "reasonable" force under the circumstances).
|Punishment Allowed||Corporal punishment prohibited.|
|Circumstances Allowable||"Reasonable force" may be used by a school teacher, principal, bus driver, or other school employee when necessary to restrain a student or prevent bodily harm or death to another.|
Note: State laws are always subject to change, often through legislation, high court decisions, or ballot initiatives. Consider contacting a Minnesota education law attorney or conducting your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.
There are a number of methods teachers, principals, and administrators can use to discipline unruly students, often with better results. In fact, a growing number of schools have shifted from a punishment focus to the use of rewards for positive behavior. Obviously, there still need to be tough consequences for certain behaviors. Non-corporal disciplinary methods include:
Research the Law
Corporal Punishment in Minnesota Public Schools: Related Resources
Contact a qualified attorney.