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Corporal punishment bill halted on House floor

A graphic demonstrates where the bill is in the process of moving through the legislature. Green circles say "Filed" "Committee" "1st, 2nd and 3rd Reading," and "Committee" again. A red circle after these says "1st reading." Three more circles denoting another 2nd and 3rd reading and "signed by governor" are blank.
Jeff Victor
Wyoming Public Media/Laramie Reporter
Senate File 47 passed out of the Senate and out of a House committee before dying on the House floor. All bills must pass in their house of origin before moving to the other house. A bill has to pass in both houses before it can be signed by the governor and made state law.

In Wyoming, teachers and school administrators who spank or paddle a child are granted legal immunity from any lawsuits or criminal charges they would otherwise face. That will continue to be the case now that Senate File 47 is dead.

The bill would have done away with the legal immunity — but that bill died Tues. Feb. 14, on its first reading in the House of Representatives.

The bill had been soaring through legislative hurdles this session. It passed a Senate committee with a unanimous vote, passed with an overwhelming majority on the Senate floor, and scored another unanimous vote in the House Education committee earlier this week.

But then 47 of the House's 62 representatives voted to crush the bill, ending its path through the legislature. Rep. Barry Crago (R-Buffalo) said he was worried the bill could prohibit teachers from breaking up fights. In earlier committee meetings, supporters had said the bill would only impact disciplinary action, not breaking up fights.

Research shows corporal punishment is ineffective as discipline and actually serves to increase behavioral problems over time.

The bill had been shepherded by Tongue River Middle School Principal Jeff Jones, who wrote his 2021 doctoral dissertation on the topic of corporal discipline in Wyoming schools.

According to Jones, there are only three school districts in the state that still allow the practice in their district policies.

Jeff is a part-time reporter for Wyoming Public Media, as well as the owner and editor of the Laramie Reporter, a free online news source providing in-depth and investigative coverage of local events and trends.
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