A Missouri school district has decided to reinstate corporal punishment in its classrooms, allowing students to be punished with a paddle under a new policy.

The school board approved the policy in June and notified parents that Missouri’s Cassville school district is bringing back spanking – a disciplinary measure abandoned by the district in 2001, according to the Springfield News Leader.

The change to reinstate spanking came after a survey sent to parents last year revealed they wanted additional discipline and it was one of their major concerns, said Merlyn Johnson, Cassville school superintendent.

“The complaints that we have heard from some of our parents is that they don’t want their students suspended. They want another option,” Johnson told the Hill. “And so, this was just another option that we could use before we get to that point of suspension.”

Administrators will implement corporal punishment as a “last resort” if other disciplinary measures do not work. The punishment will only be used in “reasonable form and upon the recommendation of the principal”, Johnson said.

Parents who want their children hit can sign an opt-in form provided by the school office. Johnson said that he is still unclear how many parents will allow their children to be hit. He said forms were sent out on Wednesday during open house and he should “have a number later in the week”, the Springfield News Leader reported.

According to Johnson, parents have asked him “Why can’t you paddle my student?” to which he responded that the school policy does not support such a measure. “There had been conversations with parents and there had been requests from parents for us to look into it,” he said.

Corporal punishment in the school district will only be administered by a principal and in the presence of a witness. It will never be inflicted in the presence of other students, Johnson said.

“When it becomes necessary to use corporal punishment, it shall be administered so that there can be no chance of bodily injury or harm. Striking a student on the head or face is not permitted,” according to the policy, which Springfield News-Leader reviewed. The only punishment allowed is “swatting the buttocks with a paddle”.

Johnson said “one or two” swings will be inflicted on to younger students and up to three swings for older students.

The US supreme court ruled that corporal punishment in schools was constitutional and left it up to states to decide to enforce it. Currently, there are 19 states across the US where corporal punishment is still allowed. The majority of the states that permit it are in the south.