CUSD changes vape policy mid-year


Crista Ramos

A small sample of the more than 100 devices confiscated by assistant principal Kevin Ames last year.

Late last month, principal Dan Serrano received an email from the district offices regarding changes to the policy on vaping. The district overhauled their policy for vaping with a new way of punishment, courtesy of Marcus Williams who is in charge of discipline for the school district.

The new punishment for being caught the first time is students have the option to participate in a diversion program and change the punishment from an off-campus 5-day suspension to a 3-day in school suspension for tobacco-based vapes.

“But that’s for first offence, non-narcotic,” Serrano said. First-time offenders caught vaping tobacco-based products are eligible for the 3-day ISS diversion program.

If students choose not to participate in the diversion program – which is an online course CUSD purchased – then they still get the punishment of 5-days out of school suspension.  

A Diversion program is a course where students have to watch videos and learn about smoking and then they have to pass a test to complete the program. When students are caught vaping if they have been in trouble for something else they may get a more extreme punishment.

“Sometimes a kid can do the exact same thing and one gets disciplined much more extreme because the student may have other incidents in their records. Once you do something in discipline it goes on your record and doesn’t go away we look at that,” Serrano said.

A student’s first time being caught is the only thing that changed because it is the only way students are offered the opportunity for the 3-day in school suspension. If it is the student’s second time being caught, then they will still get a 7-10 day out of school suspension. This also occurs in the calendar year meaning if students were caught vaping their freshman year and they are caught again their senior year, they are eligible for the three day in school suspension punishment.

Students are often caught during the school day and they think that they are able to get away with it, Serrano said.

If students are caught vaping in the restroom, a car or anywhere on campus, they will be brought to the office and will face repercussions. “Do you know how often we catch kid’s vaping in the bathroom? It’s ridiculous. We’re going to catch you,” Serrano said.

According to one student who was caught in the restroom, it is not fair that the policy has changed mid-year. This student – who spoke to us on the condition of anonymity – was suspended for five days off campus in October.

“[Students caught vaping] do deserve the longer punishment for bringing something that wasn’t allowed on school grounds,” he said. But he also noted that the new policy might have academic advantages.

“Maybe they need it because with the shorter time they get back to school faster and they don’t get behind on their grades,” he said.