Governor signs bill to ban corporal punishment

Alisa Boswell

New Mexico public schools can no longer spank or paddle students to discipline them under a legislation signed into law Wednesday by Gov. Susana Martinez.

New Mexico joined 30 other states and the District of Columbia in banning corporal punishment in schools, according to the Center for Effective Discipline, a Columbus, Ohio-based group against corporal punishment.

“The decision on whether or not to use corporal punishment on a child is one that is best left to a parent,” Martinez said.

Only 36 of New Mexico’s 89 school districts allow corporal punishment.

Clovis schools Superintendent Terry Myers said although the Clovis schools rarely exercise corporal punishment, he disagrees with Gov. Martinez’ decision to ban it.

“It takes away from the choice of the parents in how they want their kids disciplined,” Myers said. “That’s not a good thing. It needs to be left up to individual school districts to decide.”

Myers said Clovis schools only exercise this form of punishment in situations where it will keep a child from being suspended from school and only if with parents’ permission.

“Children need to be in the classroom and not in an office or sent home as punishment,” he said. “We’re a little bit dismayed that we don’t have that tool anymore.”

Portales Municipal Schools Superintendent Randy Fowler said corporal punishment was included in their school policy, but will be removed.

“We try to do what is required through state statute and this is just another requirement,” Fowler said. “We don’t really have a choice in that.”

Fowler said he did not care to comment with his own thoughts on the subject, but the Portales school district would do what is necessary to follow state law.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.