This article originally appeared on The Galt Herald. To view the original article, click here.
Editor’s Note: Tony Rodriguez is a student in the journalism program at California State University, Sacramento. He is being taught by Phillip Reese, a Sacramento Bee staff reporter and an assistant professor at CSUS. For more information about the CSUS journalism program, visit facebook.com/sacstatejournalism.
Holding a confiscated peach vape pen, Liberty Ranch High School Assistant Principal Tony Lara recently said he recognizes the severity of vaping and the problems it has created on his and many other high school campuses.
“There are (vape pens) everywhere, and they’re being sold to younger kids,” Lara said. “We need to be more aware of what our young kids are being exposed to.”
The Galt City Council voted in February to accept a grant providing the Galt Joint Union High School District with $62,756 to purchase vape detectors, fund decoy operations, and community education in Galt high schools, according to Galt Chief of Police Brian Kalinowski.
Providing accurate information about vaping to youth is a critical part of alleviating the problem, according to Lara. It’s not about punishment, he said, but about teaching them not to do it again.
“(The vape detectors) might be a deterrent,” Lara said. “The educational piece is probably more important and more necessary.”
Faculty and parents have been blindsided by the issue and have scrambled for solutions.
“It’s excessive,” said Liberty Ranch High School English teacher Anngela Schroeder. “There was one week that we had three fire alarms in successive days because of kids vaping in the bathroom.”
Vaping instruments are easily disguised by students, making it a challenge for school staff to identify the issue. Vape pens made to deceive the inexperienced eye go undetected often, according to Schroeder.
“It’s not like you find a cigarette on them,” Schroeder said. “They can look like USB keys or some other small thing like a lipstick case.”
Schroeder said vape detectors would be an asset to the school but students will ultimately find a way to vape despite detectors being installed on campus.
“You’re always going to have students that will find a way around something,” Schroeder said. “Obviously, it’s not every single child, but it’s more widespread than we anticipated.”
Neva Longoria, a parent of a Liberty Ranch High School senior, said peer pressure leads kids to start vaping.
“It smells good,” said Longoria. “It’s a cool thing to do. It’s easy to hide. I am totally against all of it.”
It is up to parents to instill good practices in their children so that they can make the informed choice not to do it, according to Longoria.
“No, you can’t stop them from everything,” Longoria said. “I think it’s easy and convenient for these kids to get ahold of it. Bottom line, I think it’s all an image.”
Students are doing it to improve their image and to fit in, and it might get worse before it gets better, said Longoria. “It’s crazy.”
Longoria also said that vape detectors will not eliminate the issue. Most students get their vaporizer pen taken away and get a light Saturday school, she said.
“There needs to be bigger consequences,” Longoria said.
“I’m sure they’re gonna find a way around it. Just like they find a way around everything,” Longoria said.