New Law Mandates Discipline Schools for Hundreds of North Texas Students Caught with Vapes

New Law Mandates Discipline Schools for Hundreds of North Texas Students Caught with Vapes

Texas’s Fort Worth A new law in Texas says that if a student vapes in class, they have to be punished. As a result, hundreds of students in North Texas districts have been sent to alternative schools for students who are in real trouble.

As of September 1, the rule says that if a student is caught with, using, or selling an e-cigarette on school property or within 300 feet of a school, they must go to a discipline alternative education program (DAEP).

During the first four months of the law’s enforcement, 238 and 219 students from Dallas ISD and Fort Worth ISD were sent to discipline schools for vaping, with more than a dozen elementary school students being sent there. It’s not clear from the law how long the kids have to stay in the DAEP program.

The bill’s sponsor, retiring Rep. Ed Thompson (R-Pearland), said he wanted to give school districts more freedom to punish kids caught with marijuana, but a last-minute change in the State Senate changed his original plan.

Thompson now thinks that the law should be changed during the next legislative session to get rid of the text that says vaping students are not allowed.

“I didn’t mean that,” he told WFAA.

The rule has also been criticized by people who are against vaping, such as the Texas advocacy director for the American Lung Association, who said that it doesn’t do enough to stop teens from vaping and becoming addicted.

“You’re taking these kids who may have just been experimenting or may have been trying a vape for the first time and sticking them in with students that expose them to more dangerous behaviors and more dangerous habits,” Gagen said.

The law, on the other hand, says that hundreds of kids have to go to programs for doing bad things.

As a result of the measure, Dallas ISD has changed its rules so that kids who are caught with vapes must go through a five-day program to help them deal with their drug problems. Fort Worth ISD said that a first crime will mean a day in a DAEP program on campus.

What the Texas Education Agency said about DAEPs is that they “serve as alternative education settings for students temporarily removed for disciplinary purposes from their regular instructional settings.”

Other school systems have tried to find loopholes in the law so they can make their own rules and not follow them. Denton ISD said it sent 9 students to DAEP programs for vaping in the Fall 2023 term. At the end of September, the district said its trustees had voted to change its District of Innovation plan so that it could make its own e-cigarette policy.

The general counsel for Denton ISD, Deron Robinson, said in a release, “We will continue to improve the services we offer to students who use e-cigarettes, whether they are controlled substances or not.” It’s an epidemic among the young people in our community, and we know we need to do something about it. We’re doing it on every school.

In its District of Innovation plan, Houston ISD said that as of October, more than 100 Texas districts had asked to be excluded.

The law is still in force in the districts that haven’t changed it.

As Gagen of the American Lung Association put it, “it’s easy to punish the students for bad behavior, but that won’t fix the real problem.” “We would really like to see more emphasis focused on the tobacco retailers and tobacco manufacturers.”

But he said that smoking by teens is still a big problem for schools and that studies show that teens vape at the same rate they smoked cigarettes.

“These things are so dangerous and so addictive, I just think it’s something that we really need to get a handle on,” Thompson said.

Thompson said that if the DAEP program is full, the law does allow a school behavior coordinator to decide what kind of punishment is right, which could include suspension.

WFAA asked for public records that show that in the fall semester of 2023, Dallas ISD sent 19 elementary school students, 99 middle school students, and 120 high school students to DAEP classes.

Fort Worth ISD records show that students who vaped during the fall term were put on DAEP and suspended from school.

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