School Corporal Punishment and the Arkansas Code, excerpted


ARK. CODE. ANN.  § 6-18-503, § 6-18-505, § 6-15-806, § 6-17-1113, § 6-18-502
 

6-18-503. Written student discipline polices required.
“(a) (1) Each school district in this state shall develop written student discipline policies in compliance with the guidelines established by the Department of Education and shall file such policies with the department.

(A)  Guidelines shall include minimum standards of quality, experimentation with innovative programs, and a system to judge the effectiveness of the program...

(b) (1) A school district that authorizes use of corporal punishment in its discipline policy shall include provisions for administration of the punishment, including that it be administered only for cause, be reasonable, follow warnings that the misbehavior will not be tolerated, and be administered by a teacher or a school administrator and only in the presence of a school administrator or his designee, who shall be a teacher or administrator employed by the school district.

(2) As used in this section, "teachers and administrators" means those persons employed by a school district and required to have a state-issued certificate as a condition of their employment...”

6-18-505. School Discipline Act.
...
“(c) (1)Any teacher or school administrator in a school district that authorizes use of corporal punishment in the district’s written student discipline policy may use corporal punishment, provided only that the punishment is administered in accord with the district’s written student discipline policy, against any pupil in order to maintain discipline and order within the public schools...”
 

6-15-806. Annual Report Card   [repealed]
“An annual ‘school report card’ must contain certain information including:

....
(6)Corporal punishment rate broken down according to the following:
(A)Sex

(B)Race

(C)Age

(D)Special education or regular classes

(E)Type of offense

(F)Number of offenses”
[ the Department of Education still gathers these data, for other purposes, but according to § 6-15-807 (Duties, Accountability Section) the legislature intended that the public and the media be informed on a regular and timely basis and that the Office of Accountability “shall furnish information to appropriate legislative committees upon request”. The Arkansas Public School Computer Network, Statewide Information System (SIS) makes the Corporal Punishment data available as part of the MS Access database, which can be downloaded via its website (FTP or HTML download site documentation at http://www.k12.ar.us/apscndocs/sis.htm) ]
 

6-17-1113. School Worker Defense Program
“(a)  The Department of Education is authorized and directed to establish a School Worker Defense Program for the protection of:
[personnel]...

 against civil liability, attorney's fees, and costs of defense for acts or omissions of each employee or volunteer in the performance of his or her duties as a volunteer or his or her official duties as a school employee, including civil liability for administering corporal punishment to students, in the amount of two hundred fifty thousand dollars ($250,000) for incidents which occurred prior to July 1, 1999, and one hundred fifty thousand dollars ($150,000) for each incident which occurs after June 30, 1999...

(b)  (1) The program is further authorized to provide limited financial reimbursement not to exceed five thousand dollars ($5,000) for attorney's fees and costs for the defense of criminal charges if the covered person is exonerated by a court of law or if all charges are subsequently withdrawn or dismissed unless such withdrawal or dismissal is conditioned upon termination of employment.

(2) The School Worker Defense Program Advisory Board may authorize reimbursement under this subsection (b) in excess of five thousand dollars ($5,000) in matters that the advisory board finds to require extraordinary attorney's fees and costs.
(c) (1) The cost of the program shall be paid annually out of funds in the Public School Fund that are designated for that specific purpose...”
 

[The Arkansas Supreme Court ruled nearly 15 years ago that bruising alone was not sufficient to substantiate child abuse]
 

6-18-502. Guidelines for development of school district student discipline policies.

“(a) The Department of Education shall establish guidelines for the development of school district student discipline policies.

(b) Such guidelines shall include, but not be limited to, the following requirements:

(1) Parents, students, and school district personnel, including teachers, shall be involved in the development of school district student discipline policies;
(2)   (A) The student discipline policies shall be reviewed annually by the school district's committee on personnel policies.
(B) The committee may recommend changes in the policies to the board of directors of the local school district; and
(3) Student discipline policies shall include, but not be limited to, the following offenses:
(A) Willfully and intentionally assaulting or threatening to assault or abuse any student or teacher, principal, superintendent, or other employee of a school system;
(B) Possession by students of any firearm or other weapon prohibited upon the school campus by law or by policies adopted by the school board;
(C) Using, offering for sale, or selling beer, alcoholic beverages, or other illicit drugs by students on school property;
(D) Possession by a student of any paging device, beeper, or similar electronic communication device on the school campus, however:
(i) The policy may provide an exemption for possession of such a device by a student who is required to use such a device for health or other compelling reasons; and
(ii) The policy may exempt possession of such a device after normal school hours for extracurricular activities; and
(E) Willfully or intentionally damaging, destroying, or stealing school property by students.

(c) The school discipline policies shall:

(1) Prescribe minimum and maximum penalties, including students' suspension or dismissal from school, for violations of each of the aforementioned offenses and for violations of other practices prohibited by school discipline policies;
(2)(A) Prescribe expulsion from school for a period of not less than one (1) year for possession of any firearm or other weapon prohibited upon the school campus by law.
(B) Provided, however, that the superintendent shall have discretion to modify such expulsion requirement for a student on a case-by-case basis;
(3) Establish procedures for notice to students and parents of charges, hearings, and other due process proceedings to be applicable in the enforcement and administration of such policies by the school administrator and by the school board;
(4) Include prevention, intervention, and conflict resolution provisions; and
(5) Set forth the role and authority of public school employees and volunteers as provided in this subchapter.

(d) Student discipline policies shall provide that parents and students will be advised of the rules and regulations by which the school is governed and will be made aware of the behavior that will call for disciplinary action and the types of corrective actions that may be imposed.

(e) Each school district shall develop a procedure for written notification to all parents and students of the district's student discipline policies and for documentation of the receipt of the policies by all parents and students.

(f) Teachers and administrators, classified school employees, and volunteers shall be provided with appropriate student discipline training.

(g) If a school employee believes that any action taken by the school district to discipline a student referred by that employee does not follow school district discipline policies, the school employee may appeal under the district's grievance procedure as provided under § 6-17-208.

(h) In developing the state guidelines for school district discipline policies, the department shall involve parents, students, teachers, and administrators”.

History.  Acts 1983 (Ex. Sess.), No. 77, § 1; 1983 (Ex. Sess.), No. 104, § 1; A.S.A. 1947, § 80-1629.6; Acts 1989, No. 146, § 1; 1995, No. 567, § 1; 1995, No. 968, § 1; 1997, No. 706, § 1; 1999, No. 1475, §§ 2, 3; 2001, No. 447, § 1.