What Constitutes Contraband Under Tennessee’s Zero-Tolerance Policy?

Helping children accused of bringing weapons, firearms and drugs or alcohol into Nashville schools

There are federal laws in place prohibiting anyone – students, teachers, parents, or staff – from bringing firearms into schools. There are certain problems with this element of the law that can affect a child’s life irreparably.

If your child has been expelled for bringing a firearm or weapon, illegal or prescription drugs, or any matter of contraband, into his or her school, the Law Office of Perry A. Craft, PLLC is here to protect your child’s rights. As a school law attorney serving Nashville and East Tennessee, Attorney Craft offers a perspective in zero-tolerance cases, leveraging his extensive background in criminal defense to create innovative strategies designed to protect your child and his/her future.

Tennessee’s anti-weapons policies

In Tennessee, it is illegal under the GFSA for any person to:

  • Possess or carry, whether openly or concealed, with the intent to go armed, any firearm, explosive, explosive weapon, bowie knife, hawk bill knife, ice pick, dagger, slingshot, leaded cane, switchblade knife, blackjack, knuckles or any other weapon of like kind, and
  • To possess or carry, whether openly or concealed, any firearm.

The law applies to all public schools and any private schools accepting funds from the state or the federal government, and must be upheld not only on school grounds, but also on buses, athletic fields, and recreational areas – in short, anything owned, rented, leased and/or operated by school of any level. The law does not apply to non-student adults who have firearms locked away safely in their own personal vehicles. Thus, if you are a parent with a permit to carry a gun in Tennessee, and that gun is locked away in your glove compartment while your car is parked on school grounds, you are not breaking the law.

Drug and alcohol-free school zones

Tennessee law allows for students caught with drugs of any kind (barring medications prescribed to them by a physician and which are being used in a legal and prescribed manner) in a school zone to be expelled under its zero-tolerance laws. College students under the age of 21 who are caught with alcohol may be disciplined in ways specific to their school’s specific policy, but non-college students may also face expulsion.

Why the laws are problematic
There are several potential problems arising from the wording of the law, but one of the overarching issues is that it is illegal to have the intent to go armed. Tennessee schools will automatically presume that any student found with a firearm or other weapon has the intention of being armed in school and err on the side of caution. But if your child had no knowledge of the weapon, even in the face of “undisputed evidence,” he or she will still be expelled under the state’s zero-tolerance policy.

While no one condones using or possessing illegal drugs, the laws governing prescription medication and OTC medications are also hazy. Under the state’s zero-tolerance policies, a student with Sudafed could face the same disciplinary actions as a student found with marijuana or OxyContin.

At the Law Office of Perry A. Craft, we understand just how serious a charge of bringing a firearm, drug or other type of contraband truly is, and what kind of impact it might have on your child for the rest of his or her life. Being expelled for a zero-tolerance policy violation could prevent your child from obtaining an education at the school of his or her dreams, could put an end to a specific career path, and may even land your child in jail or prison depending on the charge. We know the laws governing education and criminal procedure inside and out. We can help you protect your child.

Help for students accused of bringing contraband on school grounds

At the Law Office of Perry A. Craft, PLLC, we do not believe that one mistake should effectively ruin your child’s chance at a productive, successful, and happy life. We protect our clients’ rights and futures when they have been accused of violating the addictive substances, firearms, or weapons components of Tennessee’s zero-tolerance policies. To schedule a consultation with a skilled education law attorney, please call our Nashville office at 615-953-3808 or fill out our convenient contact form.