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Student Vaping Sanctions Up 519% in Conn. Schools

A report from the state’s Department of Education found student sanctions associated with vaping increased from 349 to 2,160.

Student Vaping Sanctions Up 519% in Conn. Schools

The report also found a decrease in overall suspensions and expulsions.

Connecticut students disciplined for vaping in school increased dramatically last year, according to a new report released Wednesday by the state’s Department of Education.

Between the 2015-2016 and 2017-2018 school years, the number of sanctions associated with vaping jumped from 349 to 2,160 – a nearly 519 percent increase.

Last April, a report from the U.S. Surgeon General called vaping the “next epidemic among teenagers” after finding a 900 percent increase in e-cigarette use by high schoolers from 2011 to 2016.

Chief Operating Officer Charlene Russell-Tucker says the state agency is taking an “all hands on deck” approach in assisting school districts with handling the issue and has reached out to the state Department of Health and the state Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services for support.

“We are connecting them to our districts and they are actually going out and doing training,” Russell-Tucker said. “We recognize that this is a concern and the districts are concerned about it.”

Student Tarini Krishna urges the state department to involve students in its handling of the issue, reports The CT Post. Krishna also says teachers often don’t know what a Juul – a type of e-cigarette –looks like, and may think a student is using a flash drive when they are actually charging the vaping device.

The new report aligns with a recent study’s finding that teen vaping jumped 10 percent from 2017 to 2018.

According to the annual Monitoring the Future (MTF) survey, in 2018, 37.3 percent of twelfth graders vaped in the previous 12 months, compared to 27.8 percent in 2017. It is the biggest year-to-year increase in substance use ever recorded in the survey’s 44 years.

The Conn. report also looked at other disciplinary issues and found suspensions and expulsions declined over the last five school years, with suspensions down 22 percent and expulsions down 15 percent.

Black and Hispanic students continue to be suspended more frequently than their white peers.

The report also found the number of sanctions connected to violence against persons went down 16.1 percent, while sanctions connected to physical and verbal confrontation increased 17.4 percent and incidents connected to fighting and battery went up 14.9 percent.

The number of school-based arrests also went up last year, from 1,244 during the 2016-2017 school year to 1,797 last school year.

Ajit Gopalakrishnan, the state department’s chief performance officer, says although he is unsure why arrests are increasing, it may be because the education agency is collaborating with the judicial department to “help our districts report this more accurately to us.”

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Amy Rock is Campus Safety's senior editor. She graduated from UMass Amherst with a Bachelor’s Degree in Communications and a minor in Education.

She has worked in the publishing industry since 2011, in both events and digital marketing.

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