Tennessee school safety laws began July 1

Published 2:06 pm Wednesday, July 3, 2024

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By Jon Styff

The Center Square

Tennessee is under new laws protecting the salary of school employees who are assaulted, allowing local law enforcement departments to assign school resource officers and enhancing the penalty for making a threat of mass violence at a school starting July 1.

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A series of school law changes passed by the Tennessee General Assembly go into effect at the start of the new fiscal year.

One law requires a public or charter school to pay the full salary or average salary along with full benefits to any employee who is physically assaulted and unable to work, citing the Tennessee Safe Schools Report stating there were 1,918 cases of assault and 71 cases of aggravated assault against school staff in the state during the 2022-23 school year.

A new July 1 law now allows local law enforcement to assign an SRO to a school after 500 schools in the state did not have an SRO this past school year despite state funding availability. The new law allows retired officers to be employed as an SRO at a public school in the state without losing or suspending retirement benefits.

A law also begins that makes it a Class E felony to threaten to commit mass violence on school property or a school activity. The law also states that it is a Class B misdemeanor for students who threaten violence to another student.