Last year, the number of Chicago public school students expelled for serious misconduct was 318, and another 190 cases are pending, according to an analysis by The Chicago Reporter. Three years earlier, only 57 had been expelled.

Since 1995, a total of 558 students have been expelled for serious offenses, such as weapons or narcotics violations, aggravated battery, or gang activity.

One reason for the jump: the Reform Board’s zero tolerance policy. It requires principals to report student misconduct to central office and schools to install metal detectors. Both measures aim to crack down on weapons in city schools. Yet, five Chicago public school teens told The Reporter they smuggled razor blades, box cutters and other weapons into school—for self-protection, they say.

When students are caught carrying a weapon, school officials suspend them for 10 days and notify police. Then, the student must appear at an expulsion hearing . However, it can take months before a hearing is scheduled. According to The Reporter, one student was still waiting for her hearing five months after being caught.

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