By Amy E. Feldman

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – What does the law say about corporal punishment in schools?

Parents in Morgan County, Tennessee have sued their child’s school for $1.7 million because they claim the school’s principal excessively paddled their then kindergarten-age son for throwing crayons and rocks.

The mother of the child says that she had given permission for the school to spank, but not beat, the child. Which makes many wonder: really? That happens? In 2013? Isn’t there, I don’t know, a law against that?

Actually, in 1977 the Supreme Court said that spanking or paddling by a school is lawful unless it’s been outlawed by local officials. What that means is that there is NO federal law that prevents corporal punishment in schools.

Thirty states have laws that ban a school from using corporal punishment – New Mexico was the most recent state to outlaw it in 2011, but the practice is still allowed in twenty states. So if you are opposed to the practice, ask your school district what it’s policy is and let them know if you object.

And, let your child know how you feel about his good behavior so he can avoid having to be punished.