Joe Dorman’s Open Letter on exemptions for corporal punishment in public schools 5-2-4

Publisher’s Note: Late on Thursday, May 2, 2024, Joe Dorman shared with journalists, including the founder and publisher of CapitolBeatOK.com, a letter he sent that day. The contents of the letter are below.

To the members of the Oklahoma House of Representatives,

The Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy would like to share this fact sheet with you regarding House Bill 1028. The language as presented by the Oklahoma Senate through their amendments has narrowed the scope of the students who would fall under the exemptions for corporal punishment.

Many thanks go to Rep. John Talley and Sen. Dave Rader for their work to address concerns brought forth by House members in the original discussion on the bill and include those in the Senate amendments.

OICA certainly supports appropriate discipline for children, but we feel this means that for these students, that should not be the deliberate infliction of physical pain by hitting, paddling, spanking, slapping or any other physical force used as a means of discipline on special needs children by government employees as is currently allowed by law.

This in no way restricts actions by parents to choose this should they so desire, and in no way impacts students who do not fall under the categories outlined in the bill.

As you can see in the language before you, it has been narrowed beyond the original IEP and IDEA definitions to remove the broader Section 504 Plan students who would have qualified before.

I know the scriptural debate will occur with this bill, but we have provided context to the conversation regarding “the rod and the staff” when it comes to theology.

These instruments were used to guide the animals, not to strike them. Please keep this in mind as the debate continues, and also:

Ephesians 6:4 NLT “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger by the way you treat them. Rather, bring them up with the discipline and instruction that comes from the Lord.”

Thank you to those who are already supporting this measure, and please feel free to reach out to me if you have any further questions. A physical copy of this handout will be dropped off at your office this afternoon by our staff.

Have a great weekend, and we ask that you please support the Senate amendments and the measure next week and send this to Governor Stitt’s desk.

NOTE: Joe Dorman is the chief executive officer at the Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy in Oklahoma City. His by-lined commentaries appear frequently at CapitolBeatOK.com. Founded by Oklahoma journalist Pat McGuigan, CapitolBeatOK is independent, non-partisan, and locally-managed.