New Texas law: students caught with vape pens, e-cigs will be sent to alternative education program

New Texas law will bring stricter consequences for students caught vaping at school
New Texas law will bring stricter consequences for students caught vaping at school(Source: KLTV staff)
Published: Aug. 16, 2023 at 5:34 PM CDT|Updated: Aug. 16, 2023 at 5:36 PM CDT
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WACO, Texas (KWTX) - In Texas, the newly passed House Bill 114 legislation will require that students who sell, give, have or use a vape within 300 feet of school property be sent to a disciplinary alternative education program (DAEP).

According to the FDA, one in ten middle and high school students use e-cigarettes.

While e-cigarettes were never allowed in most schools, Suzanne Hamilton, Waco ISD’s Executive Director of Student Services, says that doesn’t mean there won’t be an adjustment period.

“Now that there is a mandatory DAEP placement that comes with the legislation, it’s probably, unfortunately, going to surprise some parents,” said Hamilton.

One of the biggest concerns some districts have with the new law are the logistics of placing more students in alternative education, but the bill does provide schools with some wiggle room.

“It is quite possible that we’re going to have more students at our DAEP,” said Christine Parks, the Chief Communications Officer at Temple ISD. “The good news is that House Bill 114 does provide some provisions about the length of those placements and the location.”

As for what the bill changes, Waco ISD projects that one of the biggest changes could come from an unlikely place, because the consequences are the same, regardless of age.

“It’s gonna affect, more so, on the elementary campuses because there are a lot of times where kids pick up stuff they’re either find around their house or on the way to school,” said Hamilton.

“So we still have mitigating factors that we have to take into consideration, which is the child’s age, their intent, did they understand what they were doing? But - this is sort of tying some hands when it comes to that discretionary placement that a campus administrator can do,” Hamilton said.

Even if the new law has the potential to cause extra work for some schools, Parks says she knows the bill was signed in good faith. “The intent of House Bill 114 really is coming from a good place,” she said.

“It’s really seeking, and aiming to address the growing concerns around e-cigarettes and vaping. So we understand the intent of the bill, and we will continue to try and educate and inform everyone who is a part of our community.”