Oklahoma Republicans Vote to Let Teachers Hit Kids With Disabilities

  • Oklahoma’s House of Representatives failed to pass a bill that would ban corporal punishment against school students with disabilities.
  • The bill was introduced by a Republican and some GOP members favored the measure, but it failed to garner enough votes to pass. All the votes against it were cast by Republicans.
  • Nineteen states in the US, including Oklahoma, still allow corporal punishment in schools.

Oklahoma lawmakers on Tuesday failed to pass a state House of Representatives bill that would prohibit corporal punishment against school students with disabilities.

The bill was introduced by a Republican—State Representative John Talley—and some GOP members favored the measure. However, even more Republicans declined to support the bill, resulting in it not passing.

Nineteen states in the United States allow corporal punishment in schools, including Oklahoma. The state’s department of education has a regulation that prohibits teachers from punishing children with disabilities, but Oklahoma does not have a state law in place against the practice.

The final vote for the measure—House Bill 1028—garnered 45 votes of support, while 43 voted against it. Despite that slight edge in”yeas,” 51 votes are needed to advance bills. All 43 votes against the bill were cast by Republicans.

Empty classroom
This undated stock image shows an empty school classroom. Oklahoma Republicans on Tuesday voted against a bill that would ban schools from using corporal punishment as a way to discipline students with disabilities.

Talley’s legislation—House Bill 1028—would have barred the use of corporal punishment on any student with a disability. The bill defined corporal punishment as “the deliberate infliction of physical pain by hitting, paddling, spanking, slapping or any other physical force used as a means of discipline.”

Earlier this year, Talley spoke with KOKH-TV—a local Fox-affiliated station—about why he introduced the bill.

“I’m passionate about kids. My whole life I’ve worked with kids,” Talley said. “But my wife retired as a special ed teacher, district administrator and a principal of an alternative school. So she’s seen a lot of students be misused, mistreated through her work with special needs students.”

His legislation did not seek to end corporal punishment for all school students, nor did it include provisions for how parents discipline their children at home.

“I just think a special needs student does not need to deal with that pain, because I think they would be wondering, why is this happening to me?” Talley told KOKH-TV.

After the bill was rejected, The Recount media company shared several clips on Twitter from the Oklahoma House’s debate over the measure. A video that garnered more than 150 comments and over 300 retweets was of State Representative Jim Olsen, a Republican, quoting the Bible as he rejected the bill.

“The rod and reproof give wisdom. But a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame,” Olsen said, quoting from the Book of Proverbs.

After House Bill 1028 failed to pass, Talley filed a notice to reconsider, which could allow the legislation to be brought back to the House.

Newsweek reached out to Talley via email for comment.

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