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Wednesday, January 27, 2010 - 10:17am

Bills Target Zero Tolerance of Weapons in Public Schools

Some lawmakers think the zero tolerance policy of weapons in public schools is too strict, so they’ve introduced legislation in both chambers so kids won’t go to jail for bringing such things as fishing knives to school.

That happened last year in Morgan County. The bill’s co-sponsor Republican Senator Johnny Grant represents that area.

"It just points to the fact that common sense has been taken out of the ability of school boards to deal with an issue like this, so we want to put some flexibility back in there."

Grant says current law makes schools report any weapon offense to police, but the bill would give schools flexibility on the first offense. So that if there was no intent to harm and no firearm is involved, they don’t need to alert the police.

Co-sponsor of the senate bill Democrat Emanuel Jones says the change is needed now.

“These kids have been prosecuted, they’ve been off to prison.. they’ve been treated like felons. We need to change the laws such as those kids who have these devices are not treated like common criminals."

Jones says to prevent abuse, the state needs to track what kids are being kicked out because of the zero tolerance policy. He's introduced a companion bill that would make schools report that information to the Department of Education.

Both the senate and house bills have bipartisan support.

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