In the battle against student vaping, Hamilton City Schools has unleashed the most aggressive counter-attack seen to date in the area, according to school officials and a school officer in charge of anti-vaping programs.
When Hamilton middle and high school students return from spring break, they may be greeted with searches for vaping equipment, school officials announced Friday.
Handheld metal detectors will be used in random searches of students, their lockers and any vehicles parked on campus grounds, officials said.
Students caught with vaping devices would also undergo urine analysis tests within 48 hours at an outside agency, said Hamilton officials.
The urine tests are already used for students caught with drugs and alcohol on campus, but for the first time the tests will be expanded to report whether a student also has any evidence of vaping.
“This is by far the most aggressive posture I have heard any district take,” said West Chester Police Officer Keith Beall, who works as school resource officer and is one of the county’s leaders in coordinating with other SROs on anti-vaping programs for students.
“This might be the shock and awe approach necessary for some districts,” said Beall, who works with Butler Tech’s Bioscience School.
Officials at the Butler County school system said they are launching a new, stricter plan to stop student vaping in and around its middle, freshman and high school buildings.
In a letter sent out to parents of students in seventh through 12th grades, Hamilton schools Superintendent Mike Holbrook said the searches will begin April 8 after students return from a weeklong spring break.
“Trained school personnel will be conducting random searches of students. These random searches will be ongoing for the foreseeable future,” Holbrook wrote.
“Random, daily searches may be conducted on any student with the use of a metal detector device. These searches could be administered at any point during the school day. The searches may include student property, lockers, vehicles and an additional items deemed necessary.”
Some students whom school staffers have suspicions may be targeted for searches.
“If there is a reasonable suspicion that a violation of the student code of conduct or law has occurred, the search of a student many not be random in nature,” said Holbrook.
Hamilton and other schools locally and nationally are battling an epidemic of vaping.
A recent national survey revealed one in five high school seniors say they have vaped in the previous month, raising an issue that local officials say they have also seen in this region.
Electronic cigarettes are small, as tiny as a USB computer drive, battery-powered devices that provide nicotine and other additives to the user in the form of an aerosol.
They can also include minute amounts of flavored oil adding pleasing tastes to the experience of inhaling the aerosol and exhaling an odorless vapor. The concentration of nicotine is often many times stronger than provided by traditional cigarettes and intensifies the user’s susceptibility to addiction to the powerful drug, which can severely alter teens’ personalities and harm their still-developing brains, experts said.
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