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Oklahoma House panel rejects school corporal punishment amendment

An Oklahoma legislator says corporal punishment is needed to maintain discipline in public school classrooms. Rep. Doug Cox, R-Grove, offered an amendment to a bill that would add cyberbullying to the state's anti-bullying laws. The amendment was rejected by a House committee.
BY MICHAEL MCNUTT mmcnutt@opubco.com Modified: February 12, 2013 at 8:32 pm •  Published: February 13, 2013
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An effort to reinstate corporal punishment in public schools barely failed Tuesday.

The proposal was in an amendment to a bill that would add cyberbullying to Oklahoma's anti-bullying laws.

The Oklahoma House of Representatives Common Education Committee passed House Bill 1661. It now goes to the full House.

An amendment allowing corporal punishment in the classroom failed 8-8. The amendment, by Rep. Doug Cox, would have allowed any teacher in a school district to use corporal punishment if at the teacher's discretion it is needed “to maintain discipline and order in the classroom.”

The amendment required the teacher to have parental permission.

In Oklahoma, corporal punishment is up to each district.

“An increasing number of school boards are outlawing corporal punishment, taking away the power of the teacher if the teacher sees fit to use corporal punishment as a tool to maintain proper decorum and discipline in the classroom that leads to a good learning environment,” said Cox, R-Grove.

“Part of a school's job is to prepare kids for life. Part of being successful in life is to know that if you have negative behavior that there's going to be negative consequences.”

Cox said he doesn't think in-school suspension is seen as punishment by students.

Cox isn't through seeking to reinstate corporal punishment in Oklahoma's public schools.

“I'm going to try to get it in every education bill I can,” he said.

Rep. Lee Denney, author of HB 1661, is making her second attempt in two years to get a cyberbullying bill passed. The House in 2011, after first approving it, defeated an amended version. Opponents said it was another mandate being placed on public schools and that parents and teachers can take of the problem.

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