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House passes zero tolerance for threatening school violence

The Tennessee House of Representatives approved legislation to enhance the punishment for students who threaten violence at school.

House Bill 340 expands what constitutes a zero-tolerance offense to include threatening mass violence on school property or at a school-related activity. A violation would result in a student being expelled from school for at least one calendar year. 

It would be up to the local director of schools or the head of a charter school to determine whether the expelled student must attend an alternative school or virtual classes.

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 “That would be a local control issue for that LEA (local education agency) to determine what is best for that student,” said bill sponsor State Rep. Scott Cepicky, R-Culleoka. “(They) right now have the ability to create alternative learning environments.”

Other zero-tolerance offenses include bringing a firearm onto school property; committing aggravated assault or assault that results in bodily injury to a school employee; or is in unlawful possession of any drug, including any controlled substance, on school grounds or at a school-sponsored event. The companion version of the bill is still currently advancing through the Senate.

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