RUSSELLVILLE, Ark. – Students across Arkansas have been heading back to class this week. With the new year comes new rules. One Arkansas school district is taking a stand on e-cigarettes.
According to the CDC, e-cigarette use among U.S. middle and high school students increased 900% during 2011-2015.
Because of the data, and a few situations at Russellville High School last year, it prompted this new change.
From behind his desk at the Russellville School District’s central office, superintendent Dr. Mark Gotcher is passionate about a new practice this school year.
“We want them to know we feel like this is very serious,” Dr. Gotcher said.
The rule is, if any student is found with a vape they will get it taken away. Dr. Gotcher says that’s not all.
“You could receive up to 5 days suspension or 5 days SDC, which is in-school suspension,” Dr. Gotcher said.
Student can reduce their punishment if they take a drug test that comes back negative.
“In order for us to reduce the consequences, they have to prove that the cartridge did not contain an illegal substance.”
He says last year first responders were called to the school when two student got sick. Vapes were to blame.
“One with THC in the e-cigerette, called dabbing. The other was a high concentration of nicotine in the e-cigerette that caused a medial emergency.”
Melissa Meuret is a Russellville High School mom and also owns Rogue Vapers. She says no one under age should start.
“I’ve already talked to the principal this year and we will work with him in anyway possible,” Meuret said.
The school hopes the new policy and practice will help protect students for years to come.
“In my career it is the fastest growing trend of this type of extra extracurricular activity, so it is surprising,” Dr. Gotcher said.
Students found with an e-cigerette must also take a course on the dangers of vaping use.
If a student does have an illegal substance, they could also face legal consequences.