Lunch on Monday, October 16, began with a serious announcement from Principal Jennifer Baker: Walter Johnson is cracking down on “vaping machines.” Citing numerous incidents of students using the controversial devices illegally at school-sponsored activities and even in class, Baker announced that the school’s new policy would be to punish every incident of vaping during school or school-sponsored events with two days of out-of-school suspension and one day of in-school suspension.
Students can also be cited by the Montgomery County police with the same weight of personal possession of marijuana. School Resource Officer Shate Jackson had already cited three students for possession of the devices by the time the announcement was made. Some of the students supplying these devices to other students are unphased by the new regulations. The Pitch had the opportunity to speak with one of these students (for the sake of anonymity, their name has been withheld).
“I would have stopped the first day of school if I felt like [getting caught by administration] were a risk,” the student said.
In other words, this source does not feel like these new rules pose any more of a threat than the old policy. While this student does not fear administration, they warn students to be cautious while at school.
“Whatever you do outside of school, it’s your life, but when you’re in school, you’re under their jurisdiction,” the student said. “You just gotta make a smart decision and be safe about what you’re doing.”
It would seem from these policies that one of administration’s biggest concerns with these new devices is how little they know about them. Administration is treating these devices similarly to cannabis despite the fact that these devices rarely contain cannabinoids and are considered tobacco paraphernalia rather than illicit substances themselves. This is an important distinction considering the fact that the punishment for cannabis is more severe than that of tobacco paraphernalia.
“The students put flavored ‘juice,’ nicotine and THC oil in the devices and who knows what else,” Baker said in an email to staff.
Some students who have seen the email feel that the administration is acting out of fear. Students who don’t use these devices to consume cannabis are furious at the fact that they could be met with consequences that are more severe than their actions. On the other hand, there are teachers who find these devices disruptive to the classroom environment and are in favor of the regulations. Only time will tell how much of an impact these rules will have on WJ.