School Faculty Troubled by Increase in Vaping

by Owen Steffan ‘18

Vaping has become a problem at Sherwood in the past year and the administration is trying to cut down on its use by students on school grounds. Although vaping has been popular among students in years past, it has skyrocketed in 2017. Due to the sudden rise of vape use at Sherwood, teachers are becoming increasingly frustrated.

English teacher Lori Leonard is one of many teachers who feel that punishments being dished out for vape use have been too mild. “I wish that MCPS would relook at the policy and treat any student bringing a vaping device to school as if he or she had brought any other drug. I believe there should be stricter punishments to deter vaping,” she said.

MCPS prohibits the use of vaping on school grounds with consequences ranging from level 1 to level 2 offenses; however, Sherwood’s administration has recently been cracking down on vaping, increasing the consequences to include inschool and out-of-school suspensions. The uncertainty surrounding the severity of punishments has upset some teachers.

Social studies teacher Todd Rubenstein, who is an Elected Faculty Representative, said that he can sometimes receive, “Up to five to six complaints per week from teachers.” Rubenstein also noted that some common complaints include, “students vaping in classrooms or bathrooms and teachers not knowing what to look for to detect a vaping device.”

Vape can take several forms including a flashdrive-looking device known as a Juul and a flat, skinny device known as a Suorin Air. Because vape devices can be hard to detect and are always evolving, teachers just do not know how to identify whether something is a vape or not. Nicotine vaping is very common at Sherwood, but there is just no clear way to tell if students have nicotine in their vapes or not.

“It is time for vaping to stop,” said Principal Bill Gregory. “The agenda book lists e-cigarettes as a level 1 to level 2 offense, but students are using more than just e-cigarettes nowadays. With these new devices, a possibility of a drug has to be assumed and we have handed out level 3 to 4 punishments for vape use. I know that this is not just an issue at Sherwood, as I have spoken to other principals dealing with the same problems, but regardless, it is time for vaping to stop,” he said.