Zero Tolerance School Cases Increase In Tennessee

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The number of times Tennessee students attacked teachers or took drugs or weapons to school has increased 10.8 percent since the 1999-2000 school year, a new state report shows, says the Tennessean in Nashville. Zero-tolerance offenses those serious enough to carry mandatory suspensions – grew from 3,651 incidents in 1999-2000 to 4,047 in 2001-02, while the total number of students statewide increased by less than 1 percent.

State education officials contend that schools are doing a better job of cracking down on violent incidents and reporting the numbers. They note that the number of incidents statewide dropped slightly to 4,035 last year.

“More resources are being developed other than expelling students,” said Mike Herrmann, state school safety director. “We have more going to alternative schools.” The study found that more than half of the offenders were returned to school or placed in alternative schools. It urges schools to continue looking for other options and increasing preventive measures.

Some schools had higher numbers because the definition of zero-tolerance offenses was expanded to include participation in a gang, verbal threats against a teacher, sexual battery, inhaling drugs and threatening violence.

Drug offenses topped the number of infractions statewide each year, followed by possession of a weapon other than a firearm, battery and possession of alcohol.


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