Montgomery ISD approves vape sensors for high schools

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The Montgomery ISD board of trustees approved approximately $49,000 to purchase HALO smart sensors for vape detection on high school campuses during the June 28 meeting.

The purchase followed a vote by trustees to also approve student and staff ID cards for the upcoming 2022-23 school year as the district continues seeking to improve safety and security for students, Superintendent Heath Morrison said during the meeting.

Executive Director of Technology Amanda Davis said during the meeting that a sensor was installed in April in a Lake Creek High School restroom to pilot the program. The sensors monitor air quality, THC, vaping, carbon dioxide, and aggression and tampering of the device, Davis said.

“Vaping, vapes are a tremendous challenge in schools all across Texas and all across the country. You cannot solve a problem by ignoring it, and so we have to identify and make our schools the place where it is very challenging for students to engage in any level of vaping,” Morrison said.

“We want to make it challenging; we want to make it a deterrent; but if caught, we want to provide the appropriate consequence for the student, but even more so get them the help that they need to dissuade them from this practice and behavior that is not a positive one.”

The purchase approved June 28 calls for 23 additional sensors to be placed in six bathroom locations each at Montgomery and Lake Creek high schools, Davis said. The sensors cost about $2,000 each for installation, activation and licensing, she said.

Should a sensor give an alert, Davis said assistant principals will get a text and email that an incident has occurred. Cameras positioned outside the restrooms will allow administrators to identify who may be vaping if a student is not identified immediately, she said.

To alert students that restrooms are being monitored, Davis said signs will be posted at the respective restrooms.

“We don’t want this to be a ‘gotcha,’” Morrison said. “We want students to know that we’re doing this. … We want students to choose to not do this at school, but then we also need to remind them of the consequences if they do.”