Risk Management |
From the July/August 2018 Net Assets magazine
The following is an excerpt of the article "The More You Know," which covers nine additional topics (see box below).
By Suzanne Bogdan, Fisher Phillips
A student has her head down and is moaning. She says she vaped and does not feel well. You search her locker and backpack and find three pods containing a substance you cannot identify. The student admits to vaping “cherry spice” at school and says she bought the vaping device from another student. This isn’t the first issue your school has had involving students vaping, and it wishes to send a message by expelling both students. Is this wise?
Vaping is the use of a battery-operated device to inhale an aerosol, often containing nicotine, flavorings, marijuana or other chemicals. The devices are often called electronic cigarettes, and students may call them e-cigs, hookas or Juuls, the name of a trendy brand that looks like a USB charger. While they can resemble traditional tobacco products, the newer products look markedly different and are often very small, sleek and discreet.
Ask an Attorney (2018 NBOA Annual Meeting session) with Suzanne Bogdan, Grace Lee, Michael Blacher and Caryn Pass (slides, recording and executive summary)
Because vaping and drug use are increasing nationwide, schools should focus on this issue now. Update your student handbook to ensure that vaping is covered in the various ways it may arise. Thus, add a vaping policy and tweak your policies on drug and alcohol use, tobacco and e-cigarettes, unlawful behavior and off-duty conduct. Be sure the policies are written using language that is broad enough to give your school the appropriate discretion to address the behaviors in question without listing every possible nuanced situation that may arise.
And remember not to act impulsively when inappropriate behavior occurs. With any serious discipline (probation, suspension or dismissal), independent schools must ensure “fundamental fairness” to reduce the risk of a court overturning your decision. Ask
It is only by having good policies and processes, and educating your community on the concerns and consequences of vaping, that you will be able to reduce this unhealthy behavior within your community.
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