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Policies and Procedures: School Shooting Threat

By Shannon Taylor

Editor

Due to the school shooting threat at Dresden High School on Feb. 14, questions have risen on what the exact policies and procedures are on State and County levels, as well as State Laws related to these policies and procedures.

Many laws have been implemented during the last few years relating to school safety. One, Alyssa’s Law, HB0322/SB0274, stated that by Oct. 1, 2023 every public and private school were required to submit a district-wide and building-level school safety plan as well as a floor plan to local law enforcement agencies, the department of education and department of safety. The law also requires that schools annually conduct an armed intruder safety drill with law enforcement and to consider implementing a mobile panic alert system as well as ensuring all exterior doors be locked at all times. Law enforcement should inspect doors, and if a school violates this law on more than one occasion could have state funds withheld.
Another law passed adding that students who make threats of mass violence against a school would now be considered a zero-tolerance offense. The law, HB0340/SB0190, states that students who make such threats would be expelled for at minimum, one school year. A caveat to this law would be that a school’s director could modify an expulsion on a case-by-case basis to include whether the expelled student has to attend alternative school or attend school virtually.
Tennessee Code 39-16-517 states that “A person who recklessly, by any means of communication, threatens to commit an act of mass violence on school property or at a school-related activity commits a Class A misdemeanor and that Any person who has knowledge of a threat of mass violence on school property or at a school-related activity shall report the threat immediately to The local law enforcement agency with jurisdiction over the school property or school-related activity; and The school that is subject to the threat of mass violence. The report must include, to the extent known by the reporter, the nature of the threat of mass violence, the name and address of the person making the threat, the facts requiring the report, and any other pertinent information. Any person who has knowledge of a threat of mass violence on school property or at a school-related activity and knowingly fails to report the threat commits a Class B misdemeanor.”
The above law was enacted as policy by the Weakley County Schools Board of Education On Oct. 5, 2023. 
On Sep. 6, 2018, The Weakley County Board of Education implanted an incident response policy requiring each principal to develop an incident response plan as well as an incident response team to include the principal, school counselor, and at least two other staff members to include the school’s safety coordinator. The policy states that, “The principal of each building shall be responsible for ensuring the system Incident Response Plan and procedures are annually tailored to meet their individual campus needs based on student/employee needs and topographical layout.”
The policies also specifically states that, “In the event of an incident, the principal shall notify the Incident Response Team and the director of schools. If deemed to be necessary, the principal shall contact the appropriate emergency services (police, fire, ambulance, etc.).”
The policy further states that “members of the Weakley County Board of Education would be informed of serious emergencies by the director of schools on a timely basis after measures have been implemented to address the incident.”
All laws and policies can be found on the Weakley County Board of Education website at https://www.weakleyschools.com/schoolboard/school_board_policies and https://www.capitol.tn.gov/legislation/.

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