NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Tennessee students who make threats of mass violence against schools will be expelled for one year thanks to a new state law that establishes the act as a zero-tolerance offense in the state.

The state law went into effect July 1 after passing through the state legislature this past session.

“I think 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,'” the bill’s sponsor, state Sen. Jon Lundberg (R-Bristol), said.

According to the Educator’s School Safety Network, school threats are a common problem in the U.S. The group reported 446 incidents of false threats against schools nationwide this past school year.

News 2 has covered countless stories about false school threats, including a series of threats made against schools across the state in May.

“It is an issue, especially with social media,” Lundberg said.

The law also adds drugs to the list of zero-tolerance offenses in schools.

“What’s in schools and what’s around today is much different, and frankly, it’s lethal in many cases,” Lundberg said. “Bottom line is we’re trying to keep people safer.”

One Kentucky school district is trying to keep its students safer too by establishing vaping as a zero-tolerance offense ahead of the school year.

Christian County Schools Director of Communications Johnna Brown told News 2 this past school year, the district had 255 cases of students with vapes containing nicotine and 101 cases of students with vapes containing controlled substances.

“It’s not just a Christian County problem. It’s a problem for all schools unfortunately,” Brown said. “We’ve had students bringing them in all sorts of ways, getting creative and sharing them. Parents I think maybe don’t even realize they’re vaping because they’re not doing it at home at the kitchen table. They’re vaping at school, unfortunately.”

According to the Christian County School District’s new policy, any student in possession of a vape will receive a citation from law enforcement for drug paraphernalia. If the vape contains a controlled substance, the student will also be cited for drug distribution, possession, and/or use. The student will be sent to alternative school for a period of time where they’ll receive counseling and other mental health services.

The end goal is to help students quit vaping to protect their health.

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“We really realize the significant health risk this is to our students,” Brown said. “Sometimes I don’t know if our students understand fully the severity of what they’re putting in their bodies.”

The vaping policy change is in collaboration with the Christian County Health Department, Christian County Judge Executive, Christian County Sheriff’s Department, City of Hopkinsville, Hopkinsville Police Department, Jennie Stuart Health, Juvenile Court, and Pennyroyal Mental
Health Center.