LAKE CHARLES, La. (KPLC) - At Tuesday night’s meeting, the Calcasieu Parish School Board took a new step to kick vaping from its campuses.
“Oh, there’s definitely been an increase in vaping, especially in our middle schools. We knew that we were going to have it in high schools, it’s rampant in high schools. But, we were surprised at the frequency or the increase of it in our middle schools. So, right now that’s a concern for us," Robert Pete, administrative director of high schools in Calcasieu Parish, said.
There will now be consequences for students who bring or use an electronic smoking device on campus. Pete said this penalty comes with changing times.
“I’m not going to say it’s not as common, but I think the juuls have surpassed the tobacco cigarettes. So, you will find some students who use traditional cigarettes, but most of them are using e-cigarettes because it’s so easy to hide.”
Pete said a lot of these devices can be mistaken for a jump drive or even a pen, making it harder not only to sneak onto campus — but in classrooms.
“They’re so easily hidden, what we’ve found that some of our teachers were even charging them because they thought it was a pen drive, making it more accessible for kids to do it in the classroom," Pete said.
If a student is caught, the device will be immediately confiscated and given to a school resource officer, who will remove the liquid or pod.
If the student is under 18 years old, they’ll receive a ticket from the SRO for using and possessing a smoking device on them on campus or during a school activity.
However, if the student is 18 years or older, they’ll only be ticketed for using it on campus or during a school activity — as it is legal for an 18-year-old to possess an e-cigarette.
“We’re finding with the juuls and the e-cigarettes it’s a lot easier for our middle school students to get them as well. They’re starting younger, and in starting younger, hopefully, the consequences will prevent them, if not the awareness that we’re doing. If the awareness doesn’t work, maybe the consequences will work," Pete said.
Along with receiving a ticket, Pete said at the school level, students caught with an e-cigarette will be suspended. These new penalties are effective immediately.
Pete said with national news stories of young kids getting sick, he hopes these procedures will prevent these illnesses from happening in Calcasieu Parish schools.