State law prohibits the use of corporal punishment for disciplinary purposes without exception.
Iowa Administrative Code 281-103.1 Purpose
In conjunction with Iowa Code section 280.21, the purpose of this chapter is to define and exemplify generally the limitations placed on employees of public schools, accredited nonpublic schools, and area education agencies in applying physical contact or force to enrolled students, and to require that any such force or contact is reasonable and necessary under the circumstances. These rules also provide requirements for administrators and staff of public schools, accredited nonpublic schools, and area education agencies regarding the use of physical restraints and physical confinement and detention. The applicability of this chapter to physical restraint or physical confinement and detention does not depend on the terminology employed by the organization to describe physical restraint or physical confinement and detention.
Iowa Administrative Code 281-103.2 Ban on corporal punishment.
An employee of a public school district, accredited nonpublic school, or area education agency shall not inflict, or cause to be inflicted, corporal punishment upon a student. "Corporal punishment" is defined to mean the intentional physical punishment of a student. It includes the use of unreasonable or unnecessary physical force, or physical contact made with the intent to harm or cause pain.
Iowa Administrative Code 281-103.3 Exclusions.
Corporal punishment does not include the following:
- Verbal recrimination or chastisement directed toward a student;
- Reasonable requests or requirements of a student engaged in activities associated with physical education class or extracurricular athletics;
- Actions consistent with and included in an individualized education program developed under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, as reauthorized, Iowa Code chapter 256B, and 281--Chapter 41; however, under no circumstance shall an individualized education program violate the provisions of this chapter;
- Reasonable periods of detention, not in excess of school hours, or brief periods of before-and after-school detention, in a seat, classroom or other part of a school facility, unless the detention is accomplished by the use of material restraints applied to the person. If detention meets this chapter's definition of physical confinement and detention, the provisions of this chapter on physical confinement and detention must be followed. For purposes of this chapter, material restraints do not include devices, objects, or techniques required or ordered for reasons of safety (e.g., safety harnesses on school buses) or for therapeutic or medical treatment (e.g., devices used for physical or occupational therapy), provided those devices, objects, or techniques are so used, and used for no other purpose;
- Actions by an employee subject to these rules toward a person who is not a student of the school or receiving the services of an area education agency employing or utilizing the services of the employee.
Iowa Administrative Code 281-103.4 Exclusion and privileges.
Notwithstanding rule 103.2(256B,280), no employee subject to these rules is prohibited from:
- Using reasonable and necessary force, not designed or intended to cause pain, in order to accomplish any of the following:
- To quell a disturbance or prevent an act that threatens physical harm to any person.
- To obtain possession of a weapon or other dangerous object within a pupil's control.
- For the purposes of self-defense or defense of others as provided for in Iowa Code section 704.3.
- For the protection of property as provided for in Iowa Code section 704.4 or 704.5.
- To remove a disruptive pupil from class or any area of school premises, or from school-sponsored activities off school premises.
- To prevent a student from the self-infliction of harm.
- To protect the safety of others.
- Using incidental, minor, or reasonable physical contact to maintain order and control.
An employee subject to these rules is not privileged to use unreasonable force to accomplish any of the purposes listed above.
Iowa Administrative Code 281-103.5 Reasonable force.
In determining the reasonableness of the physical force used by a school employee, the following factors shall be applied:
- The size and physical, mental, and psychological condition of the student;
- The nature of the student's behavior or misconduct provoking the use of physical force;
- The instrumentality used in applying the physical force;
- The extent and nature of resulting injury to the student, if any;
- The motivation of the school employee using physical force.
Reasonable physical force, privileged at its inception, does not lose its privileged status by reasons of an injury to the student, not reasonably foreseeable or otherwise caused by intervening acts of another, including the student.
Iowa Code 280.21 Corporal punishment - burden of proof.
An employee of a public school district, accredited nonpublic school, or area education agency shall not inflict, or cause to be inflicted, corporal punishment upon a student. For purposes of this section, “corporal punishment” means the intentional physical punishment of a student. An employee’s physical contact with the body of a student shall not be considered corporal punishment if it is reasonable and necessary under the circumstances and is not designed or intended to cause pain or if the employee uses reasonable force, as defined under section 704.1, for the protection of the employee, the student, or other students; to obtain the possession of a weapon or other dangerous object within a student’s control; or for the protection of property. The department of education shall adopt rules to implement this section.
A school employee who, in the reasonable course of the employee’s employment responsibilities, comes into physical contact with a student shall be granted immunity from any civil or criminal liability which might otherwise be incurred or imposed as a result of such physical contact, if the physical contact is reasonable under the circumstances and involves the following:
a. Encouraging, supporting, or disciplining the student.
b. Protecting the employee, the student, or other students.
c. Obtaining possession of a weapon or other dangerous object within a student’s control.
d. Protecting employee, student, or school property.
e. Quelling a disturbance or preventing an act threatening physical harm to any person.
f. Removing a disruptive student from class or any area of the school premises, or from school-sponsored activities off school premises.
g. Preventing a student from the self-infliction of harm.
i. Any other legitimate educational activity.
- To prevail in a civil action alleging a violation of this section the party bringing the action shall prove the violation by clear and convincing evidence. Any school employee determined in a civil action to have been wrongfully accused under this section shall be awarded reasonable monetary damages, in light of the circumstances involved, against the party bringing the action.
Top 10 Points about Chapter 103: Amended Administrative Rules on Corporal Punishment, Restraint, and Physical Confinement and Detention
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