MADISON — A southern Indiana school is working to deal with a suspected vaping problem after numerous students and teachers have had to be transported to the hospital for illness in the past couple of weeks.
Madison Consolidated Schools have been briefing parents about the issue at Madison High School on a regular basis.
Since Feb. 6, eight students and two teachers have been transported to the emergency room with symptoms linked to vaping a total of 10 different times.
The latest incident was on Feb. 18 when two adults and three students were transported after they became ill in the same vicinity in the building. The school said a vaping device was located in a classroom in the same wing of the building, although it is unclear if that device was linked to the latest illnesses or previous ones.
"We feel as though this behavior and these poor choices are coming from a very low percentage of our overall student body," Superintendent Jeff Studebaker said in a release. "This behavior is not indicative of the character of our overall student body.”
Due to the ongoing issues, the district has put together a plan to help combat the use of vaping devices on campus and beyond.
“The approach we plan to implement is three-pronged," Studebaker said. “We will continue to work with other community partners and healthcare professionals to raise awareness through educational opportunities, encourage our students to seek help in order to begin the process of changing this addictive behavior, and will immediately implement stricter discipline measures for students who choose to continue to use this potentially deadly device and put others in harm's way."
The plan includes educating students, parents and staff members, providing assistance to help combat and prevent the addiction, and an enhanced student disciplinary policy regarding vaping.
· Feb. 25 at 5:30 p.m. - KDH will host a Community Forum for Adults (parents, guardians, concerned community members) at Ivy Tech to discuss matters regarding the clinical things they are seeing, what you can look for, etc.
· We have sent parents a link shared by the Jefferson County Health Department on the Quick Facts on the Risks of E-Cigarettes for Kids, Teens, and Young Adults .
· We are working with Dr. Amy Sutton Peak, Ph.D. Director of the Health Science program at Butler University on dates within the next week to address our student body and hold a parent information session on the public health threat related to vaping/electronic cigarette use, specifically in the adolescent and young adult populations.
· We highly encourage all parents to make time to attend one or all of these community sessions and learn more about this epidemic.
· If a student comes forward and turns in their device actively seeking assistance in quitting, there will be
· no penalties to the student.
· We will work to offer/partner with those who offer immediate cessation classes and resources.
· We will continue our increased adult presence in hallways and restrooms.
· We are exploring funding options and timelines for the installation of vaping detectors.
ENHANCED STUDENT DISCIPLINE: (effective Thursday, February 20, 2020)
· Adjusting the discipline policy specifically for vaping
· Applicable to both MJHS and MCHS
· Applies to campuses, buildings, grounds, and buses
· These adjustments in the discipline policy will override discipline in the student handbook
Referral to law enforcement
- o 5-day suspension
- Possible phone confiscation (if reasonable suspicion is met for analysis)
- Immediate suspension pending expulsion
- Imposition of fines
- Referral to law enforcement
The district is also working to join a class-action lawsuit against the vaping industry.
“Our hope is that these additional measures will help educate our community on the dangers of this type of behavior, assist parents in what to look for, get help for a student who wants to quit vaping and make it more unpleasant for those who continue down this path of self-destruction," Studebaker said. “We wish to thank our community and law enforcement partners who have worked with us tirelessly to get to the bottom of this matter. The City of Madison, the Jefferson County Prosecutor’s Office, CDC, Indiana State Toxicology Lab, the Indiana State Police, Department of Homeland Security, Jefferson County Health Department, and King’s Daughters’ Health have all been instrumental in this ongoing investigation.