AUSTIN, Texas (KXAN) — A new Texas law will increase punishments for students vaping on school campuses.
House Bill 114 will go into effect Sept. 1.
It requires students caught with vapes at the school to be placed in an alternative schooling environment, or Disciplinary Alternative Education Program (DAEP).
Dripping Springs Independent School District is one of the districts that recently updated its 2023-24 student code of conduct to reflect this change.
According to the DSISD student code of conduct, a student must be placed in a DAEP if they:
- Sell, give or deliver an e-cigarette to another person
- Possess or use an e-cigarette themselves
If the DAEP is full, a student can be placed in in-school suspension until space is available to transfer them. That rule also applies to students with marijuana, THC or alcohol.
‘It’s a lot’
Previously, Hays Consolidated Independent School District told KXAN vaping has been an issue at its campuses.
“If it’s not every day, it’s probably every couple of days. It’s a lot,” Hays CISD spokesperson Tim Savoy said.
Savoy said students will sometimes go in the bathroom and vape. He said, as a result, there are moments when normally open restrooms are closed to address vaping.
“The fire alarms sometimes get triggered by those vape pens, because our fire alarms are super sensitive,” he said.
Hays CISD Director of Student Services Dr. Brian Dawson said this new law gives districts a harsher consequence for vaping, but he’s concerned about the space available in DAEP.
“Logistically how are we going to get, if we do increase our numbers, students into DAEP, because there’s limited seats,” Dawson said.
Dawson said once a student is in the program, there is a conference with parents, administrators and the student.
“They discuss the behavior that’s being addressed, as well as a review of student grades, attendance, other challenges the student might have, as well as hopefully successes,” Dawson said. “But by having the parent there, the parent can also include what she has or he has observed in their home.”
Dawson said last year, 125 Hays CISD students were caught with e-cigarettes and 270 students with THC pens.
So far this year, they’ve found 10 students with THC vapes and seven with nicotine vapes.
Dawson said they have more staff on the lookout.
“Not just our admin but our teachers,” he said. “They you know, walk during passing periods and they ensure that the restrooms are monitored as often as they can.”
Ultimately, Dawson said the district hopes to support students through this process.
“Work collectively in helping that student make better decisions,” Dawson said. “The biggest overarching message is we want to help our students. We want to help them if they are facing adversity through the use of any type of substance.”
Dawson said parents can help the district and community address this safety and health issue by educating themselves on e-cigarettes and vaping devices.
“We want to make sure our parents are educated to know so we can potentially stop the student’s use,” Dawson said. “Not out of fear, but because they become more aware of the consequences health wise.”