by Terry Rogers
With vaping a growing concern among teenagers, Milford School District will review their Discipline Code of Conduct to add vaping as a violation. In addition, the district will increase education regarding the dangers of vaping.
“We have had one incident in our elementary school, at MCA about 13 incidents and at our high school, around 32 incidents,” Dr. Jason Peel, Director of Human Resources and School Climate, said. “There were times where students had multiple incidents, so not to assume that’s how many students were involved. We’re seeing most of these incidents occur in our bathrooms.”
Peel also stated that vaping violations call for a three-day suspension, but the administration does not give that strict of a punishment for the first offense. They also meet with families and parents to discuss what the child is doing in school and confiscating the vapes. The district includes education in both 7th and 10th grade health classes about the dangers of vaping.
“They even go into the marketing of vape products and how that ha evolved in its different negative effects, short- and long-term health concerns, chemicals that are harmful and that sort of thing,” Peel said. “At the high school, we do have detectors in our bathrooms. We also make it a point for administrators and support personnel to be more visible in areas in the bathroom, especially during transition times. That’s in both MCA and the high school.”
Another method for helping students understand the dangers of vaping is Purpose Prep, available through each student’s Schoology account that has a module on the negative effects. One thing the district is considering is to require any student who has been caught with a vape to complete the module in order to show them the dangers of vaping. Board member Kris Thompson asked if vape violations were recorded separately and if vapes containing illegal substances like THC were treated differently.
“Yes, we do,” Peel said. “That is one thing I failed to mention. We also have our SRO check if it’s not clear if there is THC involved in any of the products that were confiscated.” Thompson asked if there had been any instances of THC-laced vapes and Peel stated that he did not know of any. Gary Zoll, Secondary School Principal, stated that he did not believe there were any students with THC vapes.
Dr. Dickerson also believed there were no incidents where a student had a vape that was positive for THC.
“Dr. Peel, I believe the first offense here is actually a one day and we have up to three days,” Dr. Dickerson said. “That’s for reoccurring offenses, but we also try to do a lot of education on the front side as well for those first offenses.”
Board Vice-President Rony Baltazar-Lopez pointed out that there was no statement about the dangers in the code of conduct related to vaping.
“When I was looking through the code of conduct, I could only find reference to tobacco or vaping under what the penalties are and what are the actions, of course, for disciplinary measures, but I didn’t see any, kind of like, provision or any kind of statement,” Baltazar-Lopez said. “I know there’s a statement in the code of conduct for drugs and for alcohol. We do want students in a drug and alcohol-free environment, but we don’t have anything specific on vaping. So, I kind of want you to elaborate a little bit more on your marketing skills in terms of reaching students so that they’re aware and their families about the harmful effects of vaping and tobacco.”
Peel explained that vaping fell under the area of tobacco initially which is why it was included in that section of the policy. He also pointed out that there is a drug and alcohol policy under the staff disciplinary policy while schools have long been tobacco free zones. He felt it would not b difficult to add vaping to the policy.
“I guess at the onset, when they first came out, it was a tobacco product that was in a different format,” Peel said. “So, we really just lumped those together. In terms of marketing, do you mean having that known throughout the change of signage and that sort of thing maybe?”
Baltzar-Lopez explained that specifying it in the code of conduct could make it clearer to students and families.
“Maybe putting flyers in the hallways or in the bathrooms, things that are simple,” Baltazar-Lopez said. “It doesn’t have to be mass communications externally, but it should be something done internally so that our students are aware.”
Dr. Dickerson explained that a review of the code of conduct was conducted each year and that staff would look over the section on drugs and alcohol to see how vaping could be incorporated with the proper language and information.
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