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Many Students Placed in Disciplinary Education Programs for Vaping

Woman smoking vape pen
Woman smoking vape pen | Image by seksan Mongkhonkhamsao/Getty Images

A significant number of students in North Texas have had to be placed in disciplinary alternative education programs as a result of a new state law intended to crack down on minors vaping on school campuses.

HB 114 has sent hundreds of students in the Dallas area to disciplinary alternative education programs (DAEP) this school year following the bill’s enactment on September 1, 2023. The bill followed in the footsteps of an initiative known as VAPE=DAEP, in which any student caught with a vape device on campus or within 300 feet of school property or a school-sponsored event faced DAEP placement.

Some 45% of Duncanville ISD’s 300 DAEP students were in for vaping. Mesquite ISD had the second biggest share, with 39.8% of its 517 DAEP students in for vaping as of February 1, The Dallas Morning News reported.

Richardson ISD had 365 students in DAEP. Roughly 29.6% were in for vaping, similar to Garland ISD, where there were 563 students in DAEP, with 29% in for vaping.

Dallas ISD had a total of 2,351 students in DAEP, with a much lower percentage there for vaping (12.5%) relative to other nearby school districts. Still, the district has struggled for years with academics. Only 41% of students in the district scored at grade level on their STAAR exams, and nearly 20% of students in the graduating Class of 2022 failed to earn a high school diploma in four years. The statewide on-time graduation average was 90%.

A report from Texas Health and Human Services found that 11.2% of high school students in Texas reported using e-cigarettes in the past 30 days in 2021, and 5.6% of middle school students reported using e-cigarettes in the past 30 days.

What other actions are campuses taking?

Duncanville ISD

The district partnered with Youth 180 to provide drug prevention and education for students. The district also works with the North Texas Behavioral Health Authority to educate parents, students, and employees on drug prevention and mental health.

Duncanville ISD’s website also has several vaping and e-cigarette parent resources posted.

Dallas ISD

District students face a conference or hearing before transitioning to DAEP, where first offenses require a five-day substance abuse intervention program before coming back to their regular campus. Parents are also required to participate in half-day orientation, according to Dallas ISD.

Second offenses result in serving a full placement with additional substance intervention support. Parents are required to participate in a substance abuse informational session.

Mesquite ISD

The district does not have any information on its vaping policies or HB 114 on its website. Still, e-cigarettes, vaping, and marijuana are listed as prohibited items under its student code of conduct. The district does have a fentanyl facts tab, which includes a variety of information on the deadly opioid.

Richardson ISD

The district has developed a tobacco response and education intervention plan. Richardson ISD also offers Saturday drug prevention classes for families and has partnered with Defensive Line. Richardson ISD has reimagined the Live Wise/Live Healthy program to tackle more drug prevention work within the community.

As of January, the punishment for students caught with a nicotine vape falls from 30 to 10 days when a mandatory nicotine course is taken, according to DMN.

Some effects that vaping nicotine can have on youth include harm to the developing adolescent brain, particularly the parts of the brain that control attention, learning, and impulse control, changes in memory connections known as synapses, and increased risk of future addiction to other drugs, according to the CDC.

CORRECTION: This article was updated at 9:45 a.m. on May 10, 2024, to correct an error regarding Dallas ISD’s on-time graduation rate for the 2021-2022 school year.

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