Mississippi Corporal Punishment Lawsuit

Last Updated: February 25, 2010

This article appeared in the February 2010 Rural Policy Matters.

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A federal lawsuit filed on behalf of a Tate County high school student asks for a ban on paddling in the state, claiming the punishment is unfairly applied based on gender and race.

The plaintiff student, a 16-year old male, was paddled last fall for looking at photographs on a camera during class. The female student who brought the camera to class was not paddled.

The suit requests a preliminary injunction or temporary restraining order halting the practice. It also seeks damages and attorney’s fees, among other costs, as well as a declaration that corporal punishment of students is unconstitutional.

The lawsuit claims that 75% of students paddled in Mississippi are male, creating "a serious, gender driven crisis," and that black students are paddled at disproportionate rates.

Another Mississippi district in Leflore County has been sued for money damages twice in the last year for paddling students. The plaintiffs in those suits were 11 and 6 years old.

Read more:

Read local coverage of the lawsuit here:

Read the Rural Policy Matters’ in-depth coverage of the Human Rights Watch study of corporal punishment which reveals Mississippi has the largest percentage of students corporally punished:

Read more from the February 2010 Rural Policy Matters.

Related Categories: In Local News, Rural Policy Matters

Related Tags: Discipline, Teacher Issues, Youth