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Considerations regarding disciplinary penalties for students found guilty of weapons offenses
December 18, 2023

In the fall of 2016, a shooting occurred in an elementary school in Townville, S.C., injuring three and killing a young boy. The perpetrator, a 14-year-old middle school student, had been suspended from school after bringing a machete and a hatchet to school.

The case conjures the kinds of questions that administrators in any school may confront:

  • What is the appropriate consequence for a student who brings a weapon to school?
  • What level of risk to school security is posed in any given case?
  • What kinds of responses would be most effective in ensuring school safety?
  • What kinds of responses would be in the best interest of the student who brought the weapon to school?

While many weapons are seized in schools (4,468 in New York City alone between July 2022 and March 2023), others go undetected. Nationally, about 7% of high school students report on surveys that they were threatened or injured with a weapon on school property during the previous 12 months, according to the National Center for Education Statistics (see

This article will discuss legal decisions involving discipline and considerations when determining an appropriate penalty for bringing a weapon to school.



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