After an increase in the number of incidents of students vaping in schools, sometimes openly in classes or on the school busses, Carroll County Public Schools updated its policy regarding disciplinary options for such infractions.
“We’ve had some ... a number of cases where students have blatantly used vaping products on the bus, in the classroom … in the cafeteria,” Dana Falls, director of student services, said.
Often, the devices are relatively odorless and don’t smell like typical tobacco products, such as cigarettes, he said, and so students think they can get away with it. This makes the problem more of a disrespect issue than a nicotine or tobacco issue, he added.
Falls said principals have asked for more options for discipline in these cases.
The current tobacco policy does include vaping and lays out possible punishments. It’s broken into possible punishments for first, second, third and fourth offenses.
What has been added to the policy is that violations involving e-cigarettes or vaping devices can be handled as incidences of “disrespect or disruption in addition to or in place of the guidelines” involving tobacco.
“Depending on the circumstances, the student may be assigned to Saturday school for reasonable choices and/or suspended from school. If there is reason to believe the device contains a drug other than nicotine, law enforcement shall be contacted. This may result in discipline as outlined in the administration regulations to the Board of Education policy JPA: substance abuse,” according to the policy.
Falls said there have been a couple of instances of students using the devices to smoke wax-based products that contain tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the chemical compound in cannabis that is responsible for a euphoric high.
“We’ve had a couple of situations where the student admitted that’s what they had in it,” Falls said.
In those cases, the school system would defer to the substance use policy, not tobacco or vaping policy, he added.
Recommended guidelines for a first offense for tobacco or products containing nicotine and nicotine replacement products include confiscation of the item, and assignment of the student to the first Tobacco Education Group program. Failure to complete the TEG program assignment may result in a three-day suspension for disrespect, according to the policy.
Second-offense guidelines include confiscation of the item, assignment to the TEG 2 program or TEG 1, if the student did not complete it on the first offense. Failure to complete the TEG program assignment may result in a three-day suspension for disrespect. The recommendation also includes filing a letter of complaint with the Department of Juvenile Services, according to the policy.
Recommendations for a third offense include confiscation of the item, assigning the student to the TEG 1 or the TEG 2 program (if not completed on previous offenses) and a three-day suspension for tobacco violation. Failure to complete the TEG program assignment may result in a two-day suspension for disrespect, according to the policy, and also adds that if the student has already completed the TEG 1 and TEG 2 programs, a five-day suspension may be assigned with a parent conference. Guidelines also include notifying the Pupil Personnel Worker and contacting the police to request a citation be issued, according to the policy.
Fourth-offense guideline recommendations include confiscation of the item, assigning the student a 10-day suspension and making a recommendation to the superintendent of schools for an extended suspension from that school, according to the policy. Recommendations also include contacting the police to request a citation be issued.
Falls did say overall, tobacco-related infractions are down, because kids aren’t smoking like they used to.
“It’s not like the old days where kids were smoking in the bathroom and you’re catching them on a regular basis,” he said.