When school is back in session in August, there now will be new consequences.
Tennessee Senate Bill 190, passed by state lawmakers and signed into law by Governor Bill Lee.
The law makes an addition to schools’ zero-tolerance policies.
Any student who makes a threat to a school and is convicted of doing so will be suspended for a full year.
Parents have mixed feelings about the law, which took effect July 1st.
A Hamilton County School Board member gathered parents together Monday night to talk about it and other legislative changes that affect students.
They referred to an incident back in May, Brainerd High School was one of many schools across the state that received a hoax threat call on the same day.
“There’s not much room to joke about things,” says mother Kara Parm.
Authorities have still not made any arrests for the May 3rd incident, though the FBI continues to investigate.
According to the Educator’s School Safety Network, there were 446 incidents of false threats against schools nationwide this past school year.
“It could be your school next,” says Parm.
Now, students who are caught making a violent school threat will be suspended for one year.
“It is an issue, especially with social media,” says Sen. Jon Lundberg.
Senator Jon Lundberg helped get the law passed.
“What we’re really doing is sending a message that says ‘hey, this is not a joke, this is not a joking matter, so don’t do this,'” says Sen. Lundberg.
Kara Parm has two daughters and a son. She believes it is a step in the right direction.
“I think that they need to know the weight of the decisions they make. I know they’re young, I know they’re learning. But that gives a standard,” says Parm.
But another Hamilton County mom believes the focus is on the wrong thing.
“Suspending students, keeping them in the environment that does not promote healthy behavior and emotions, is not helping the issue,” says Valerie Underwood.
Valerie Underwood says it gives a “hands off approach” rather than trying to help the student.
“Instead of ostracizing students out of the building, they need to be incorporated into the community of learners and learn to deal with group settings and standards,” says Underwood.
We reached out to Hamilton County Schools about the law. Spokesman Steve Doremus says…
“Anytime there are changes in state law, Hamilton County Schools takes steps that are necessary to ensure our compliance. With the addition of ‘threats of mass violence’ to the state’s list of Zero Tolerance offenses, the HCS administration will propose appropriate updates to our policies for consideration by the Board of Education and make any needed changes to our guidelines and procedures. Safety is the highest priority for HCS, and we will continue to take steps to prevent threatening behavior in our schools. When threats do occur, we will take them seriously and respond in accordance with law and Board policy.”