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School Violence and Weapons: Ramifications of Possessing Weapons on School Grounds

Carrying Weapons at School

In nearly all states, possession of a firearm on school property is a class C or class D felony.* In addition to having the right to file criminal charges, all school districts have an automatic expulsion policy for students caught with any type of weapon on school property which action can be appealed on a case-by-case basis. Such policies are mandated by the Gun-Free Schools Act of 1994. Special Education students are protected from automatic expulsion under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). A special education student who is found to be possessing a weapon on school grounds is subject to removal from the school to an interim setting for a period of up to 45 days. During this time, the incident is studied, and if the possession of the weapon was not due to the student's disability, that student can be punished in the same way as a non-special education student.

Some states, for example, Kansas and Florida, have also adopted laws that allow for the revocation of students' driver's licenses if they are found guilty of possessing a firearm or drugs on school property. Kansas goes so far to say that the state can revoke a student's driver's license for any behavior engaged in by a student that was likely to result in serious bodily injury to others at school.

*Important Notice and Disclaimer: State laws are constantly changing -- contact an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

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