Oil lawsuit-killing bill advances _lowres

Advocate staff photo by PATRICK DENNIS -- The Louisiana State Capital Building.

Paddling public school students will remain legal in Louisiana.

The state House on Monday rejected a bill that would outlaw the longtime practice.

The vote was 34-61.

State Rep. Barbara Norton, D-Shreveport, sponsor of the bill, said paddling brutalizes students.

Norton said 1,633 public school students were targeted for corporal punishment since 2011.

On the other side, state Rep. J. Rogers Pope, a former Livington Parish superintendent, called the legislation a bad bill.

Pope said paddling should remain a local option for school districts, which is current law.

A total of 38 of Louisiana's 69 school districts allow paddling.

Norton said 31 states have done away with corporal punishment in public schools.

"At the end of the day we are teaching our students about violence," she said.

House Education Committee Chairwoman Nancy Landry, R-Lafayette, said she backed the bill because local policies do not have enough safeguards. "A male administrator can spank a female student," Landry said.

Pope said school districts that allow corporal punishment have detailed policies, including requirements that a parent or guardian sign off on the punishment beforehand.

"The key word there is choice," Pope said.

The issue did not spark a lengthy debate in the state House.

A majority of members apparently decided early on that they are comfortable leaving the issue in the hands of local educators.

The legislation emerged from the House Education Committee by one vote, a sign that it would face a major challenge in the full House.

The House last week approved a separate bill that would ban corporal punishment for students with disabilities.

That bill, which is backed by Gov. John Bel Edwards, is awaiting action in the state Senate.

Norton's proposal is House Bill 497.

Follow Will Sentell on Twitter, @WillSentell.