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6,000 Pupils Expelled For Guns

More than 6,000 students were expelled in 1996-1997 for bringing firearms to their public schools, the Education Department reported Friday. Nearly 60 percent of the expulsions were for bringing pistols.

There were 51 million students in public schools at the time of the report.

The report was the first of its kind, so there is no way to tell whether expulsions had risen or fallen. The department also cautioned that the report gives no information on the rate at which students carry firearms to school.

Moreover, the department warned that because of differences in reporting by states, the national totals may not give an accurate picture.

Still, Education Secretary Richard W. Riley said the report is a "clear indication that our nation's public schools are cracking down on students who bring guns to school."

The Gun-Free Schools Act, signed into law in 1994, required states to pass laws ordering school districts to expel for one year any student who brings a firearm to school. All states have passed such laws.

However, one-third of the 6,093 expulsions were shortened to less than one year. The law allows districts to modify the expulsions in individual cases.

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