Mike Moses
Commissioner of Education
Texas Education Agency
1701 North Congress Avenue
Austin, Texas 78701-1494
512/463-9734, FAX: 512/463-9838

August 26, 1997

Mr. Jordan Riak, Executive Director
Parents and Teachers Against Violence in Education
P. O. Box 1033
Alamo, CA 94507-7033

Dear Mr. Riak:

You have written a series of letters to Mike Moses, Commissioner of Education, relating to the administration of corporal punishment in Texas public schools. I am writing in response to your inquiries on behalf of the commissioner.

You requested information regarding options for parents who are opposed to corporal punishment in public schools or who consider corporal punishment administered to the child to be excessive. Decisions regarding whether or not to include corporal punishment in a discipline management plan, and under what circumstances and conditions, is decided independently by each school district. Each school district is required to have a discipline management program as part of its district improvement plain, which is developed by the superintendent with the assistance of a district-level planning and decision-making committee (see Texas Education Code, 37.083 and 11.252). A parent who is concerned about district policy regarding the use of corporal punishment should address those concerns to the persons in the district responsible for decisions regarding discipline management. If a parent is concerned that a particular administration of corporal punishment was excessive, the parent should consult the school district's policies to determine the appropriate person with whom to voice those concerns. Typically, the first point of contact would be the principal of the campus at which the incident occurred.

Outside of the school system, other contacts a parent could make could include local law enforcement for a determination of whether a criminal assault has occurred, a report of the incident to the Department of Protective and Regulatory Services as suspected child abuse, or a report to the State Board of Educator Certification for a determination of whether a sanction against a certified educator's state certificate is appropriate. If a parent has questions regarding the possibility of a civil action regarding the matter, the parent should consult with private legal counsel.

You also inquired about precautions taken to prevent persons who may be inclined to use corporal punishment inappropriately from entering the teaching profession. Decisions regarding the issuance of educator certification are made by the State Board of Educator Certification (SBEC) and decisions regarding school district employment are made by local school districts. SBEC and school districts independently decide what information should be sought regarding applicants from available resources. To the extent that criminal history record information may be helpful, it is available to both SBEC and local school districts through the Texas Department of Public Safety.

David Anderson
Chief Counsel
Office of Legal Services

Return to list of paddling states.