New Law on Vaping in Schools Poses Challenges for San Antonio's Largest School Districts

San Antonio, TX - A recently enacted law aimed at curbing vaping incidents in schools has presented a significant challenge for San Antonio's major school districts.

Northside ISD Superintendent Dr. John Kraft acknowledged the severity of the issue, stating, "We recognize that it's a prevalent issue in and throughout the community."

Dr. Kraft further explained that THC vaping has emerged as a particularly troublesome problem within their schools, with a substantial increase in incidents. "The number increased by twofold just from 21-22 to the 22-23 school year," Kraft revealed.

During the previous school year, Northside ISD (NISD) conducted a total of 1,800 disciplinary hearings, with a staggering 1,434 of them related to THC vaping. In contrast, the 2020-2021 school year saw 746 hearings related to THC vaping.

Kraft attributed the rising numbers to the prevalence and accessibility of vaping products in the community, factors that have contributed to the escalation of the issue.

However, this problem isn't unique to Northside ISD. North East ISD (NEISD) also provided data for the 2022-2023 school year, revealing a total of 1,482 discipline conferences, with 666 linked to THC.

"Prior to HB 114, non-THC vaping discipline offenses were not referred to DAEP," NEISD stated, referring to the disciplinary alternative education program.

With the enactment of House Bill 114, the current school year may witness a substantial increase in vaping-related hearings, as the law mandates mandatory disciplinary action for vaping on school property, regardless of the presence of THC.

Dr. Kraft expressed concerns about the capacity of the DAEP program to accommodate the influx of students. In response, Northside ISD is launching a second chance program to provide education and support to first-time offenders, avoiding full DAEP placements at another campus. This initiative aims to maintain compliance with state law while keeping students at their original schools.

Both NEISD and NISD have communicated these changes to parents and students, emphasizing the seriousness of the matter and providing tools for addressing it effectively.

"We want to make sure that they know we take it seriously and we've given the tools for them to take it seriously as well," said Dr. Kimberly Ridgley, assistant superintendent for NISD.

NISD's focus is on educating students about the health risks associated with vaping and the potential disciplinary consequences. Ridgley stated, "It's very intentional in the prevention message, which we have not really explored previously. And so we're excited about the opportunity to have targeted prevention."

According to the American Lung Association, e-cigarettes produce hazardous chemicals like acetaldehyde, acrolein, and formaldehyde, which can lead to lung and cardiovascular diseases. Additionally, a consensus study report from the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine in January 2018 found that young e-cigarette users experienced coughing, wheezing, and an increased risk of asthma.

To address these concerns, NISD has scheduled a community safety forum on vaping for October 4. The event will feature speakers from the Attorney General's Office, DEA, and Northside police who will discuss the dangers of vaping and provide information about fentanyl. The forum is set to begin at 6 p.m. at the Northside Activity Center, located at 7001 Culebra Road.