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Tennessee students could face expulsion for mass violence threat

WILSON COUNTY, Tenn. (WKRN) — It’s a zero-tolerance policy, students across Tennessee could face expulsion if they threaten a school with mass violence. The new state law officially went into effect on July 1.

Last school year, there were multiple fabricated threats made in Wilson County. 

In November 2022, a seventh grader faced a felony charge after he allegedly sent a false and concerning message through Snapchat. Earlier this year, in February, a bomb threat was made at Wilson Central High School.

While both instances were not credible, they put parents in a spiral.

Now, a new Tennessee law is putting a big emphasis on punishment when it comes to mass violence threats made by a student.

“It causes a lot of distraction in schools; it causes a lot of chaos in schools…It has to stop it has to stop,” said Bart Barker, Wilson County Schools’ public information officer.

Barker sat down with News 2 to explain the new law that went into effect in July. “When a student makes a threat of mass violence towards any of our schools, that is deemed a category 5 offense, that is a maximum offense.”

A category 5 punishment means a student would be expelled for a full calendar year.  

“The director of schools does have the authority to modify that expulsion if need be, and an appeal process is in place with all the dual processes as well. But it’s very serious,” Barker said.

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After multiple unsubstantiated threats circulated last year, Barker said social media contributes to the chaos.

“The resources that go into investigating these things. And if they have no merit to them then that takes away from resources that can be used in the community if there is an emergency outside of a school campus. It has a domino effect to it.”