The Garden City USD 457 Board of Education reviewed the board’s drug, tobacco and alcohol policy Monday, considering minor tweaks and how to combat the growing trend of vaping among teens.
Efforts at the beginning of the year, particularly at Garden City High School, seem to already be working, said Glenda LaBarbera, director of special education.
The nationwide increase of teens vaping or using e-cigarettes was noticeable at GCHS. During the 2017-18 school year, there were 17 tobacco offenses at the high school. Last fall, there were 60.
The school took pointed efforts to combat that increase, Nordby said, including enforcing and discussing board and school tobacco policies at school activity meetings, the first day of school and parent-teacher conferences and spreading the word about the health risks of vaping through the student paper, student news broadcast and physical pamphlets and handouts.
“When this thing came up in the fall, there were a lot of adults who had no idea what (Juuls and e-cigarettes) were … This was the first time a lot of our parents heard that information,” said Superintendent Steve Karlin.
As of April 1, due in part to the awareness campaign, there have been 11 tobacco incidents at the high school, LaBarbera said.
Alcohol, tobacco and drug use is less prominent among younger age groups. As of April 1, 12 students were cited with tobacco offenses at the Charles O. Stones and Bernadine Siits intermediate centers this year, and 14 students at Horace Good and Kenneth Henderson middle schools.
Another six students — three at Charles O. Stones and three at GCHS — were cited with alcohol offenses this year and another 58 — 20 at the middle schools, 35 at GCHS and three at the alternate education center and visual academy — with drug offenses, the majority of which involved marijuana.
The current board policy prohibits students from possessing or using tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, drugs or alcohol in any district facility, property or vehicle or at school-sponsored events. If caught or reported, students will be subjected to consequences based on whether it was their first, second or third offense within the school year.
First and second offenses require different lengths of out of school suspension, suspension from school activities — at least a month for first offenses and four months for second offenses — and different levels of intervention.
Second offenders must also bring their parents to an Intervention Team meeting. Third offenses could lead to long suspensions or expulsions and suspension from attending or participating in school activities for a year. On all offenses, the police will also be notified.
This year, all intermediate center student offenders, all but two middle school students and 88 high school students were first time offenders. Fifteen GCHS students were second-time offenders and six were third-time offenders.
Students in school activities cited during the group or team’s season are subjected to additional consequences for each offense, said GCHS Athletic Director Drew Thon, including being barred from a certain amount of games, performances, contests or other events, tobacco, drug and alcohol counseling and treatment and, as a maximum penalty, dismissal from the group. These penalties include reported off-campus offenses, as well, Thon said.
“It’s the best program that high schools can implement, and middle schools. With the Teen Intervene and going through the court system. In my opinion, it’s the best thing the schools are doing, and we’re at the front of it,” Thon said.
Assistant Superintendent Renee Scott suggested several small changes, including some language clean-up and keeping drug and alcohol offenses on students’ records, while tobacco offenses reset each year.
Contact Amber Friend at firstname.lastname@example.org.