Letter to Tennessee Governor Sundquist
March 5, 2002 and The Governor's reply of April 11, 2002

State of Tennessee

Dear Governor Sundquist:

Some people claim that corporal punishment of students teaches “respect.” With regard to respect, I invite your response to three questions:

1. Is a teacher who injures children in the way the children pictured below have been injured deserving of respect?

2. Is an educational system that prescribes such treatment of schoolchildren deserving of respect?

3. Are legislators who sponsor or support legislation that authorizes the outcomes shown below deserving of respect?

Thank you for your kind attention.

Jordan Riak, Executive Director
Parents and Teachers Against Violence in Education (PTAVE)
P.O. Box 1033, Alamo, CA 94507
Tel: 925-831-1661   E-mail: riak@nospank.net   Web site: nospank.net




Governor Sundquist's reply of April 11, 2002

Dear Mr. Riak:

I have been asked by Governor Sundquist to respond to your letter regarding your concern about the use of corporal punishment in Tennessee schools.

While I understand your concern, the Tennessee Department of Education follows the pertinent statutes and case law as it pertains to corporal punishment in the schools. The applicable corporal punishment statutes are Tennessee Code Annotated §§ 49-6-4103 and 49-6-4104.

T.C.A. § 49-6-4103 states: "Any teacher or school principal may use corporal punishment in a reasonable manner against any pupil for good cause in order to maintain discipline and order within the public schools."

The statutes may be found in their entirety on the internet at http://www.michie.com/resources1.html. The applicable case law is Paul v. McGhee, 577 F. Supp. 460 (E.D. Tenn. 1983), which held that a teacher and principal may use corporal punishment only in a reasonable manner, preserving the common-law right of the child not to be subjected to excessive punishment.

The rules and regulations regarding corporal punishment are established by the local boards of education.

T.C.A. § 49-6-4104 states: "Each local board of education shall adopt such rules and regulations as it deems necessary to implement and control any form of corporal punishment in the schools in the district."

Thank you for writing and sharing your concerns.


Faye P. Taylor

Commissioner of Education

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