Hawkins County Sheriff Ronnie Lawson said the sixth-grader is a special needs student who didn’t realize the BB pistol was in his backpack.
“That young man had spent the night with his buddy,” Lawson said. “He took his stuff to school with him and it had a BB gun in his backpack and didn’t even realize it. He didn’t intend to bring it to school. He just had his clothes and the BB pistol and planned to take it home after school, and didn’t even think anything about it.”
Another student apparently noticed the BB pistol, which looks like a real firearm, and reported it to school officials.
Director of Schools Charlotte Britton said the school was placed under lockdown.
A search was conducted, and the BB pistol was located.
“The student who reported did the right thing in telling school authorities,” Britton said. “Evidently it must have resembled a (firearm) for another student to report it. (The reporting student said he/she) thought the other student was carrying a gun. The school went into immediate lockdown, which is the procedure always followed, and a search immediately took place.”
The Hawkins County School System’s zero tolerance policy calls for a student to be expelled for a period of no less than one calendar year.
The director of schools does, however, have the authority to modify the expulsion requirement on a case-by-case basis.
Appeals regarding zero tolerance offenses must be submitted to the director of schools in writing, and requests can be made by the student and/or parent to attend the alternative school.
Lawson said the BB gun was turned over to the student’s parent, and no charges were filed because there was no intent for wrongdoing.
“He’s special needs, and he didn’t realize what he was doing was wrong,” Lawson said. “It’s an unfortunate situation.”