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discipline and punishment

Laws regarding school discipline and punishment vary from state to state; from school district to school district; and between public schools, private schools, and charter schools. School discipline and punishment laws are generally located in a state’s statutes (often in the Education Code) and further defined in a specific school’s policies and procedures. Federal laws may also apply in particular school discipline contexts. And state and federal criminal laws may apply to certain student conduct that occurs on school property or at school-sponsored events.

Exclusionary discipline is any type of school discipline that removes or excludes a student from their usual educational setting. Two of the most common exclusionary discipline actions are suspension and expulsion.

Corporal punishment is the use of physical force—usually paddling or spanking—to punish a student for misbehavior. Corporal punishment against students is legal in approximately 19 states but is controversial and the subject of proposed state and federal legislation to limit or prohibit its use.

In Texas, school discipline and punishment are governed by state statutes found primarily in the Texas Education Code, as well as by policies and procedures established by individual school districts. Exclusionary discipline, such as suspension and expulsion, is permitted under Texas law, but must adhere to procedural safeguards to ensure fairness and due process. Texas is one of the states where corporal punishment is legal in public schools unless a parent or guardian has provided a written statement prohibiting its use. The Texas Education Code outlines the circumstances under which corporal punishment may be administered and emphasizes that it must not be excessive or administered in anger. Federal laws, such as the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and Title IX, may also impact school discipline practices, particularly in relation to students with disabilities and issues of discrimination. Additionally, state and federal criminal laws can apply to student conduct that constitutes a crime, whether it occurs on school property or during school-sponsored events.

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