Schools prepare for surge in disciplinary cases in light of new vaping law

Any student found in possession of vaping-related items will be issued a mandatory placement in an alternative education program, according to HB 114.

SAN ANTONIO – A new law cracking down on vaping in schools is presenting a challenge for San Antonio’s largest school districts.

“We recognize that it’s a prevalent issue in and throughout the community,” said Northside ISD Superintendent Dr. John Craft.

Craft explained that THC vaping has been a problem in their schools.

A big problem.

“The number increased by twofold just from 21-22 to the 22-23 school year,” Craft said.

Last school year, NISD had 1,800 disciplinary hearings. Of those, 1,434 were for THC vaping.

For the 2020-2021 school year, there were 746 THC-vaping-related hearings.

“The prevalence in and about the community, the accessibility in the community has really caused and led to probably that number increasing,” Craft said.

It’s not just a Northside issue, North East ISD provided data for the 2022-2023 school year — 1,482 total discipline conferences with 666 related to THC.

“Prior to HB 114, non-THC vaping discipline offenses were not referred to DAEP,” NEISD said in a statement provided to KSAT.

DAEP stands for disciplinary alternative education program.

This school year, the number of vaping-related hearings could drastically increase with the passage of House Bill 114.

The law requires mandatory disciplinary action for vaping on school property, regardless of whether it involves THC.

“Our DAEP program — especially (at) the secondary middle school and high school levels, they’re not designed to accommodate that number of students,” Craft said.

In light of HB 114 becoming law, Northside ISD is launching a second chance program so that its alternative schools don’t become overwhelmed.

“A second chance program academy so that first-time offenders, we have the ability, like I say, to educate students without a full-blown DAEP placement to another campus,” Craft explained.

It will keep the district in compliance with state law while keeping kids at their original campuses.

NEISD and NISD have communicated new messages to parents and students about the change.

“We want to make sure that they know we take it seriously and we’ve given the tools for them to take it seriously as well,” Dr. Kimberly Ridgley, assistant superintendent for NISD said.

NISD is focusing on educating about the health risks of vaping as well as the disciplinary risks.

“It’s very intentional in the prevention message, which we have not really explored previously. And so we’re excited about the opportunity to have targeted prevention,” Ridgley said.

According to the American Lung Association, “E-cigarettes produce a number of dangerous chemicals including acetaldehyde, acrolein, and formaldehyde. These aldehydes can cause lung disease, as well as cardiovascular disease.”

The article by ALA also states in January 2018, the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine released a consensus study report showing that young people who use e-cigarettes have coughing and wheezing and an increase in asthma.

NISD will hold a community safety forum on vaping on Oct. 4. Speakers from the Attorney General’s Office, DEA, and Northside police will talk about the dangers of vaping as well as fentanyl. The forum starts at 6 p.m. at the Northside Activity Center located at 7001 Culebra Road.

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About the Authors:

Leigh Waldman is a news reporter at KSAT 12. She joined the station in 2021. Leigh comes to San Antonio from the Midwest after spending time at a station in Omaha, NE. After two winters there, she knew it was time to come home to Texas. When Leigh is not at work, she enjoys eating, playing with her dogs and spending time with family.