The Cambridge-Isanti High School is taking a new approach to severely curb the instances of students using e-cigarettes on school grounds.
In the past, any student found vaping would be issued a “ticket,” with punishments being one day suspension and the contacting of the student’s parent/guardian. For any subsequent offenses, the student could receive one to 10 days of suspension as determined by the principal.
Under the new policy, which was presented to parents via letter as a pilot program earlier this week, any student caught in possession of a device will be required to attend an anti-vaping/anti-tobacco education course, which will be taught by the school’s resource officer.
If a student fails to attend the course, however, this program takes a dramatic turn from the previous policy. In those instances, the student will be referred to juvenile court in Isanti County and the student’s parent/guardian will be required to attend court with the student.
The need for a pilot program was brought on by the alarming increase in the number of high school students taking up vaping. According to a survey presented to the Cambridge city council back in May 2019, over 30% of Isanti County 11th graders voluntarily admitted they had smoked some form of tobacco, which was the highest percentage in the state.
At that same meeting, then-school resource officer Jesse Peck indicated that during the 2018-2019 school year (which at that time wasn’t completed), he had issued “well over 100 tickets” for e-cig usage – up from 75 tickets issued in 2017-2018.
“We are firm believers that education is always the answer,” read the letter, which was signed by CIHS principal Steve Gibbs, Riverside Academy director John Droubie, Isanti County attorney Jeff Edblad, both Isanti and Cambridge police chiefs Travis Muyres and Todd Schuster, plus Isanti County sheriff Chris Caulk.
“We believe that when issues arise, we partner together with stakeholders to ensure that we are doing what is best for our students at all times. And we greatly appreciate your willingness to partner to provide the best for every student, every day.”