School boards gain flexibility to punish students with weapons under House bill

Schools would no longer be forced to expel or suspend students caught with a fishing knife or baseball bat in their car on school grounds under legislation approved by the state House on Tuesday.

By Aaron Gould Sheinin
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Schools would no longer be forced to expel or suspend students caught with a fishing knife or baseball bat in their car on school grounds under legislation approved by the state House on Tuesday.

The House approved House Bill 826, by Rep. Ed Setzler, R-Acworth, by a vote of 170-0. Setlzer’s bill aims to eliminate situations where a student has a rescue knife or fishing knife in his car on school grounds and is automatically suspended from school and charged with a crime.

Setlzer gave an example of a student in his district who had two fishing poles and a tackle box in his trunk. Inside the tackle box were three fishing knives. The student was kicked out of school and automatically faced criminal charges.

HB 826 would not apply to firearms or explosives. Instead it gives school boards the discretion to take incidents on a case-by-case basis.

The bill, Setlzer said, eliminates “current state law that we in the General Assembly have said the mere presence of a bat or a knife in an school zone is a per se violation of the law.”

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