If your student's high school has accused your student of vaping, take that vaping charge most seriously. Your student has everything on the line. Suspension is the default sanction for many high school student misconduct matters, no matter how good of an academic record and student-conduct record your student may have maintained. Suspension or even expulsion is a common high school sanction for vaping or vape device possession. Suspension, even for a relatively short term, risks more for your student than you might imagine, not just lost honors and awards but also lower grades, failing grades, incomplete courses, and delays in graduation. Expulsion from high school and having to pursue a general equivalency degree (GED) instead can also be a sanction. Suspension or expulsion can affect college admission, employment prospects, and even careers. If your high school student faces a vaping charge, retain national school misconduct attorney-advisor Joseph D. Lento and the school misconduct defense team at the Lento Law Firm now. Don't delay. Protect your student's reputation and future.
What Is Vaping
Vaping goes by many names. Parents of high school students do well to recognize those names so that they do not miss signs of vaping by their student or by other students with whom their student interacts. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) describes vaping as the use of an electronic device to heat a liquid to produce an aerosol, or mix of tiny particles in the air, that the user can then inhale for desired effects. Vaping isn't smoking because nothing burns. But vaping has an effect similar to smoking because vaping produces air-borne particles to draw into the airways. The electronic device or vape pen typically has a tiny battery, a heating element, and a liquid reservoir. Manufacturers make vape pens to deliberately look like a cigarette, cigar, or pipe or to deliberately conceal the device's appearance in the form of a pen, USB flash drive, or other innocent-looking devices. A vape shop, hookah lounge, or party may offer a much larger vaping device from which several users may draw. While vaping is a popular term, other popular terms associated with vaping include e-cigarettes, e-hookahs, mods, tank systems, or ENDS for electronic nicotine delivery systems. JUUL is the most popular e-cigarette brand. MarkTen Elite is a brand selling USB-shaped vape pens. Know vaping practice and parlance to protect your student.
Risks of Vaping When Young
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that vaping is unsafe for children, teens, and young adults. E-cigarettes typically contain nicotine, which not only increases heart rate and blood pressure, depresses appetite, and can cause nausea and diarrhea but can also harm an adolescent's brain development. High school students vaping with nicotine are hurting the very thing for which they attend high school, the development of their cognition, academics, and mental, emotional, and social skills. E-cigarettes can also contain other harmful substances in addition to nicotine. According to the Department of Health and Human Services' youth educational materials, vaping can introduce lead and other toxic metal particles into the lungs. Nicotine is also highly addictive. Once a high school student begins vaping, even well away from school grounds, the urge to vape on school grounds grows. You've probably seen coworkers, addicted to cigarette smoking, run outside on smoking breaks. Vaping can have the same behavioral effect on high school students, creating hard-to-resist urges to vape. Vaping when young can also lead to cigarette smoking, with the even more harmful cancer risks of tobacco. For health alone, your high school student should avoid vaping, not just at high school but everywhere else. Help your high school student understand and avoid the health risks of vaping.
Vaping and Drug Use
While nicotine is a primary concern around youth vaping, and with good reason for all nicotine's bad effects, vaping can involve more-serious drugs than nicotine. For instance, high school students and others can and do use vape pens, wittingly or unwittingly, to ingest the active chemical THC from marijuana. Vaping THC can produce a much more potent effect than smoking the marijuana plant. Many high school students think they are just enjoying an aerosolized fruit-flavored liquid when instead, they are getting doses of THC with its subtle and not-so-subtle effects. When high school officials recover vape pens, they will often test the pens to determine what substance the device is conveying to the student. Investigators can even detect the substance in an empty vape pen from residue left in the pen. That vape pens can convey illegal drugs adds to the seriousness of any school charge relating to a vape pen. To the student, vaping may seem like a harmless activity. To school administrators, though, vaping can instead look a lot like a serious drug issue in the school. If your student faces high school vaping charges, be sure to retain national school misconduct attorney-advisor Joseph D. Lento to defend and defeat those charges. Don't let your student get wrongly implicated in misconduct that looks like serious drug abuse.
The Rise of Vaping Among High School Students
A Centers for Disease Control national survey documents the epidemic of vaping among high school students. About eleven percent of high school students, or one out of every nine students, reported that they vape. That's about 1.72 million high school students vaping. And when high school students vape, they vape frequently. Forty-three percent of vaping high school students do so on twenty or more days out of every month. More than one-quarter of those students vape every day. Another source indicates much higher vaping rates among high school students, not just one out of nine but one out of five. And vaping reaches into middle schools, too, where about 320,000 students vape. More high school students use disposable vaping pens than prefilled or refillable cartridges. The most popular vaping brands among high school students in descending order are Puff Bar, Vuse, SMOK, JUUL, and Suorin. The vast majority of vaping high school students use flavored vaping products, most often fruit flavor followed by candy or other sweets, mint, and menthol. Help your student not only understand the risks of vaping but avoid peer pressure to vape. That peer pressure may be real and may be substantial.
Laws Against Youth Vaping
Laws in several states require secondary schools to prohibit vaping on school premises. For example, California Health and Safety Code Section 104420(n) requires any school receiving state funding to prohibit “electronic cigarettes that can deliver nicotine and non-nicotine vaporized solutions.” Even vaping only flavored aerosols with no nicotine violates state mandates. Similarly, California Education Code Section 48901 prohibits smoking and tobacco products on campus. That section refers for definitions to California Business and Professions Code Section 22950.5, which includes “the use of an electronic smoking device that creates an aerosol or vapor, in any manner or in any form,” and any “electronic device that delivers nicotine or other vaporized liquids.” Other states mandating no vaping on school grounds include:
- Montana House Bill 413 prohibits not only nicotine vaping but vaping of other aerosol products on school grounds
- Nevada Senate Bill 263 amended the state's Indoor Clean Air Act to prohibit vaping not only in school buildings but also on school property
- Florida Senate Bill 7012 added vaping and vapor-generating electronic devices to its prior prohibition against tobacco products on school grounds
- Kentucky House Bill 11 similarly requires high school boards to adopt policies prohibiting nicotine and other vapor products on high school grounds
States like Utah with House Bill 324, Texas with Health & Safety Code Section 161.252, and Washington with House Bill 1074, have also raised the legal age for vaping to the legal age for using tobacco products. The legal age to vape in Utah's case is 20, while the legal age to vape in Washington and Texas is 21. New Jersey, Massachusetts, Alabama, Oregon, Pennsylvania, and Tennessee are other states where one must be 21 to vape. Other states like Arizona, Colorado, Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Minnesota, and Ohio make vaping illegal until 18. Other states have passed legislation forming task forces to study and advise schools on how to regulate vaping, while still other states have taken similar administrative action. Chances are good that your state has some legislative or administrative measure encouraging, authorizing, or even mandating your student's high school to prohibit or discourage vaping. If your high school student faces vaping charges, retain national school misconduct attorney-advisor Joseph D. Lento and the school misconduct defense team at the Lento Law Firm to investigate the school's legal authority to regulate vaping.
High School Vaping Policies
The serious health risks associated with vaping among the young and state mandates to minimize those risks are among the reasons why high schools commonly prohibit vaping with policies that often include discipline for violations. High school administrators recognize vaping's risks and take responsibility for reducing them. California's Association of School Administrators, for instance, encourages its high school administrator members to adopt policies prohibiting vaping at school and procedures to apply those policies to students committing vaping misconduct. The recommendations include board-level policies prohibiting vaping, administrative procedures for determining vaping charges, programs to educate students on vaping risks, training school staff members to recognize vaping products and behaviors, and providing information to parents about the risks of vaping and school prohibitions against vaping and possession of vaping devices.
An Education Week article on the high school vaping crisis describes how other high schools across the country, including schools in Florida, Colorado, South Carolina, and Washington, are approaching the crisis. While many of those schools use education programs, many more schools are adopting strict vaping prohibitions, the violation of which leads to school suspension. According to the article, vaping policies vary widely at schools in states that do not outlaw vaping by youth or on school property. But even in those states, vaping prohibitions with associated threats of serious discipline are common. A vaping policy at a Wisconsin school district provides an example, with students facing suspension for the first two vaping offenses and expulsion for a third vaping offense. High school students considering vaping or wrongfully accused of vaping face a thicket of policies, detection measures, and procedures for deciding school vaping charges. If your student faces vaping charges at your student's high school, promptly retain national school misconduct attorney-advisor Joseph D. Lento and the school misconduct defense team at the Lento Law Firm. Get the help your student needs to minimize the potential impact of unfair charges and overly harsh discipline.
School Anti-Vaping Enforcement Measures
Some schools go to great lengths to detect vaping and enforce vaping prohibitions with suspensions and expulsions. The Texas Tribune reports that school districts across that state are adopting harsh enforcement measures to combat a tide of vaping. Schools are installing smoke-alarm-like sensors in hallways and bathrooms to detect vaping aerosols. The sensors send a signal to the school office, alerting school officials to vaping. Schools also use dogs to sniff out vape devices. School officials may also require students to roll up shirt sleeves and open backpacks and purses so as not to be able to hide vape pens. In many schools facing a vaping epidemic, students must sign out to use restrooms. In other schools, administrators lock restrooms, closets, and unused classrooms where students might vape. Video surveillance adds to the detection of violators. Harsh punishments for possessing a vape device include suspensions and expulsions. In the Texas Tribune story, one school administrator complained that the school was expelling so many students for vaping that it was interfering with the school's operation. That official advocated for an educational rather than disciplinary approach. If your student faces vaping charges, retain national school misconduct attorney-advisor Joseph D. Lento to advocate for the most sensitive approach and best outcome for your student. School officials have hearts. Effective advocacy can remind them of the advantages to both the school and the student of an educational rather than disciplinary approach.
Vape Device Possession
High school students must be cautious not to possess a vape pen, whether the device simulates a cigarette, USB device, or other devices. Schools that prohibit vaping routinely also prohibit vape device possession. For many schools, possessing a vape pen is equivalent to using the vape pen when the question comes to a policy violation and discipline. School vape pen possession charges raise the stakes for innocent students who may have simply carried a friend's purse or backpack. School possession charges raise the stakes even more when the vape pen contains a more serious drug than nicotine, such as THC. The school may treat a THC possession charge as a much more serious offense. In fairness, schools should distinguish between knowing possession of a prohibited vape device and innocent, unknowing possession, such as from carrying a friend's backpack. But proving that distinction may take convincing evidence. If your student faces high school vape pen possession charges, retain national school misconduct attorney-advisor Joseph D. Lentoto ensure that the school does not hold your student responsible for misconduct that other students committed.
Problems With High School Vaping Discipline
High school discipline for vaping is more than a distinct possibility, and more like a substantial probability, under the many school policies prohibiting vaping. But discipline that suspends the student from school is often an ineffective or even harmful response. Suspension can create other problems. If indeed the student has a vaping habit, a suspension may increase the student's ability and inclination to vape while home alone. If the vaping habit is part of an adjustment, socialization, and maturation issue, then once again, a suspension may exacerbate rather than relieve those social, educational, and developmental issues. The Education Week article cited above acknowledges these problems with school suspensions for vaping. But not all administrators do. Many high schools impose automatic suspensions for vaping. And if, as may be the case, the suspended student was not vaping and was instead held responsible by association, misunderstanding, or mistake, all that a suspension does is embitter the student toward the school. Suspensions always risk complicating and even worsening rather than remedying the situation. If your student faces vaping charges, retain national school misconduct attorney-advisor Joseph D. Lento of the Lento Law Firm to ensure that your student has the best possible outcome.
Reasons for Relief From Vaping Discipline
Many high school students misunderstand and underestimate the dangers of vaping. That's one reason why educating students about those risks is a common prevention strategy, right along with the disciplinary approach. Students generally know the danger of weapons and fighting on school property and the cost of vandalism and other common wrongs. Many students also know the hazards of tobacco use. But vaping? Not so much. A PBS NewsHour show documented how high school administrators worry that students simply don't know vaping's risks. Many students don't know that their favorite fruit-flavored vaping liquid is probably laced with nicotine and may contain other hazardous substances. Disciplining students who don't know their conduct's hazard is not a particularly educational approach. Some high school administrators would prefer warnings, education, and other positive, restorative approaches over disciplinary suspension or expulsion. The key, though, is getting your student's matter in front of those officials who prefer education over discipline. If your student faces a suspension or expulsion for vaping, retain national school misconduct attorney-advisor Joseph D. Lento of the Lento Law Firm to effectively advocate for an educational rather than disciplinary approach.
How to Respond to Vaping Allegations
If your student faces allegations that your student was vaping on school property or at a school event or possessed vaping devices in violation of school policies, your student should follow these steps. First, your student should speak with you and the school misconduct defense attorney-advisor you retain before meeting and speaking with school officials, if possible. If they have reasonable suspicion that your student possesses vaping devices, school officials may generally search your student's clothing, belongings, or locker. But school officials generally don't have the authority to hold your student for interrogation if your student insists instead to first speak with you. Your student should generally know what the school alleges, including the evidence the school claims to have, before your student addresses the charges. Trying to explain things when your student doesn't know what the school knows, or suspects can be confusing and unfair to your student, and damaging to your student's fair defense. Instead, promptly retain national school misconduct attorney-advisor Joseph D. Lento of the Lento Law Firm to help you and your student learn the school's charges and evidence before providing a detailed statement explaining your student's side of the story. Here are other guides for your student when facing school vaping charges:
- Avoid using social media to address what happened relating to the vaping charges because social media posts can be inaccurate and misconstrued and can generate negative publicity and responses
- Avoid giving multiple statements to school administrators, teachers, other school staff members, and students about what happened or didn't happen relating to the vaping charges because they may not remember and relate accurately what you said or didn't say
- Listen to what your parents say and what the school misconduct defense attorney-advisor whom your parents retain says, and do as they instruct, request, and recommend
- Keep up your school studies and co-curricular activities with your best devotion, applying yourself with your greatest discipline and energy so that you do not fall behind and hurt yourself simply because of false or exaggerated charges
- Treat school administrators, teachers, staff members, and student peers with respect rather than lashing out or withdrawing so that you preserve important relationships, keep the best options open to you, and continue to represent yourself well
- Above all, promptly retain the skilled and experienced school misconduct defense attorney who can most help your student avoid suspension or expulsion, namely, national school misconduct defense attorney-advisor Joseph Lento
If your student faces high school vaping charges, the school must offer your student fair procedures to challenge unfair, exaggerated, or unsupported allegations. Public high schools generally have a constitutional obligation to provide students with due process before suspending or expelling the student. Private high schools often offer similar protections under policies that may constitute an enforceable contract. Fair procedure means, at a minimum, a reasonably specific notice of the charges, so that you and your student know what the school actually alleges and some opportunity to present the student's side of the story in response to those allegations. If informal meetings and interviews do not resolve the matter to the charged student's satisfaction, then the student should have some form of hearing available at which the student can speak and also present other testimony and records. Advocating effectively within the confines of high school procedures takes a skilled and experienced academic administrative attorney. Retain national school misconduct attorney-advisor Joseph D. Lento and the school misconduct defense team at the Lento Law Firm to help your student put school procedures to the best effect, to defend and defeat unfair, exaggerated, or unsupported vaping charges, and unduly harsh penalties.
Appealing Vaping Discipline
If your student's high school has already found your student responsible for vaping charges, and your student faces suspension, expulsion, or other discipline, you may have an appeal available to challenge and overturn the findings and discipline. Many schools offer discipline appeals, either under published school policies and procedures or as unpublished practice. An appeal offers a review of the discipline decision by an independent official or appeal panel. Your student may, in other words, get a second chance at a fair decision avoiding discipline. Appeals, though, are not simply a matter of making the same presentation your student made at the original hearing. Rather, appeals typically require showing that the original decision-maker erred in one or more of the ways that the appeal rules specify. Appeal grounds typically include things like evident decision-maker bias, a finding beyond the scope of the charged misconduct, findings unsupported by any credible evidence, or procedural errors like denying the student an opportunity to present evidence and arguments in defense. Retain national school misconduct attorney-advisor Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm's school misconduct team for your student's appeal of vaping discipline. It may not be too late for help, even if your student has lost at the first level.
Obtaining Alternative Relief
If you and your student have already exhausted formal school procedures and appeals, and your student still faces vaping suspension or expulsion, you may have another avenue for relief. Following school procedures, including completing all available appeals, may not be your student's only avenue for relief from vaping discipline. School procedures may not provide the flexibility that some school administrators prefer for dealing with high school student misconduct, especially vaping, as to which many students don't know the risks. School districts also maintain oversight offices and officials to ensure that procedures and punishments are fair and in the best interests of the school and students. National school misconduct attorney-advisor Joseph D. Lento has helped hundreds of students nationwide obtain alternative relief by negotiating with school general counsel, outside counsel the school retains, ombudspersons, and similar oversight officials. Don't give up, even if you have exhausted all formal administrative remedies. Contact attorney Lento to see if your student may have alternative available relief.
The Consequences of Discipline
Do not underestimate the potential impact on your high school student of a suspension or expulsion for vaping. Suspension or expulsion as a disciplinary sanction leaves a mark on your student's school record. That mark can affect your student's ability to gain admission into a preferred college or university, get a professional or vocational license, or get a job or pursue certain careers. Your student can also lose the social or other support of family members, friends, and mentors. Those effects can be long-term, even lifelong. Even in the shorter term, suspension or expulsion can delay your student's graduation, throw your student off schedule from supportive classmates, disrupt your student's social networks, and cause your student to lose motivation and self-confidence. High school is obviously a formative time when even smaller setbacks can lead to larger impacts on your student's mental, emotional, and physical health and relationships. Don't put your student at greater risk of these potential ill effects of vaping discipline. Instead, retain national school misconduct attorney-advisor Joseph D. Lento of the Lento Law Firm for the skilled and experienced help your student needs.
Retain a National School Misconduct Attorney-advisor
If your high school student faces vaping charges, don't entrust your student's future to a local criminal defense attorney who doesn't know academic administrative law. School administrative procedures for student misconduct matters are entirely different from criminal court procedures. Attorneys who have substantial experience defending criminal charges in court generally have zero experience dealing with school officials in administrative misconduct proceedings. Experience counts. The laws, rules, regulations, and procedures are all different between academic administrative and criminal court forums. The strategic approaches to a criminal case in court versus a misconduct matter in school are also entirely different. A local criminal attorney who has no school misconduct proceeding experience may well take exactly the wrong approach, one that alienates school officials. If your high school student faces vaping charges, you need an academic administrative attorney with substantial skill and experience. National school misconduct attorney-advisor Joseph D. Lento of the Lento Law Firm has helped hundreds of students nationwide in misconduct proceedings of all kinds, including with vaping issues. Attorney Lento is available to help defend and defeat high school vaping charges. Call 888.535.3686 or go online now.