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Saturday, December 14, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  Education

Spokane’s high school principals supported fining students caught vaping; school board tabled proposal

Five Spokane principals opposed Spokane Public Schools’ decision this week to table a proposal to cite students for vaping, two of the principals said Thursday. In this April 23, 2014 photo, a man smokes an electronic cigarette in Chicago. (Nam Y. Huh / AP)
Five Spokane principals opposed Spokane Public Schools’ decision this week to table a proposal to cite students for vaping, two of the principals said Thursday. In this April 23, 2014 photo, a man smokes an electronic cigarette in Chicago. (Nam Y. Huh / AP)

Spokane Public Schools’ decision this week to table a proposal to cite students for vaping contradicted the earlier wishes of all five of its high school principals, two of them said Thursday.

“We were just looking for as many tools as we could find to fight vaping,” North Central Principal Steve Fisk said Thursday morning during a news conference at NC.

The subject – again – was vaping, which has increasingly diverted the attention of students, teachers and administrators at almost every school in the district.

At Ferris, teachers are taking time off during their prep periods, pairing up and patrolling the bathrooms, principal Ken Schutz said.

At Lewis and Clark, Principal Marybeth Smith said, “I have kids who come in and tell me that there’s smoke in the bathrooms. They’re tired of having their bathrooms hijacked.”

Some of those students have given up using the bathrooms during passing periods, opting to excuse themselves during class.

“Now they’re losing instruction time, and a lot of them are devoted scholars,” Smith said.

Their frustration mounting, principals at Ferris, LC, NC, Shadle Park and Rogers expressed support recently for selectively issuing citations – and a $103 fine – to repeat offenders.

“The high school principals had moved forward with asking for that … but it took a different direction, for whatever reason, and I’m sure there are some good ones,” Schutz said Thursday.

The topic of citations was discussed during a board meeting on Oct. 23, then tabled for possible action this week.

However, for reasons that still aren’t clear, the district will rely instead on stepped-up education efforts and a community symposium on Nov. 21 at North Central.

Shawn Jordan, the district’s director of secondary schools, said the decision to hold off on citations was made Tuesday night after a meeting of school principals.

“I think it’s still something we have on the table, but right now, the more we’ve processed it with staff, the more we’re looking at some other ideas before we go to the citation,” Jordan said after the meeting.

At other districts in Spokane County, sheriff’s deputies have worked with schools and selectively issued citations to vaping offenders.

Spokane doesn’t have armed officers in schools, but Schutz noted that resource officers could issue fines for vaping and other infractions.

However, those fines for vaping would require school board approval.

At the Oct. 23 board meeting, director Jerrall Haynes said he was opposed to the idea.

“I have a real hard time wrapping my mind around a citation and getting courts involved,” Haynes said.

It’s unclear how the idea of citations will be received on the board overall.

Next month, three new members – Nikki Lockwood, Jenny Slagle and Kevin Morrison – will join Haynes and Mike Wiser.

Jordan also questioned the value of citations.

“We have speeding tickets, but does that stop people from speeding?” Jordan asked. “We have to start thinking about our youth as a first step.”

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