Proposed State Bill Allows Students to Defend Themselves

Feb 21, 2013

Rep. Terri Lynn Weaver, R-Lancaster

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (WMOT)  --  A Tennessee legislator has introduced a bill that would allow students in the state’s public schools to defend themselves if attacked.

Republican Rep. Terri Lynn Weaver of Lancaster says current zero-tolerance policies mean every student involved in an on campus altercation faces expulsion. She says her measure would allow students to defend themselves, or step in to help another student being assaulted.

“I find it kind of ironic that your natural instinct, when you’re outside of a school zone, is to defend yourself if someone gets aggressive and attacks you first and throws the first punch, but it is not allowed in our schools.”

A mid-state professor who has studied zero-tolerance regulations in Tennessee schools agrees the policies needs to change.  Dr. Kathleen Burriss teaches in the College of Education at Middle Tennessee State University.

“I don’t think it did what it was intended to do. There were so many cases that were arbitrary, and that I think that in the past should have been looked at as individuals.”

Rep. Weavers says her bill would give principles the authority to look at each incident on a case by case basis.

Weaver says inspiration for the bill came from the Franklin based Professional Educators of Tennessee.