Education Secretary John King is urging governors and school leaders in states that allow student paddling to end a practice he says would be considered "criminal assault or battery" against an adult.
King released a letter Tuesday asking leaders to replace corporal punishment with less punitive, more supportive practices he says work better against bad behavior.
Education Department civil rights data shows more than 110,000 students were paddled in the 2013-14 school year. The data shows disproportionate numbers of black and disabled students were physically punished.
Fifteen states, including Florida, expressly permit corporal punishment: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Wyoming. Seven states do not have laws prohibiting it. They are Colorado, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Maine, New Hampshire and South Dakota.