April 13, 2022
Dear PCS Families,
Plainwell Community Schools, like many other schools across the nation, has seen a continued spike in incidents involving student vaping. Complicating this issue is that there is varying information and misunderstandings involving vaping and/or electronic cigarettes. The purpose of this letter is to inform you of the issue, give you resources if you feel your child is involved in this kind of behavior, as well as alert you to possible repercussions if your child engages in vaping on school property. We take this issue very seriously due to the negative health effects that vaping can have on our students. Additionally, it is illegal for minors to purchase or use vapes that contain nicotine or illicit drug products.
The increase in vaping in our school buildings has prompted us to install vape sensors in all the bathrooms at the Middle and High School. The sensors will alert school staff immediately when there is a detectable anomaly in the air, allowing us to respond and get to the core of the vaping problem. This alert provides our administration reasonable suspicion to search students, their personal items and/or lockers, including their vehicles if they drive to school. The ultimate goal is to decrease vaping and return to focusing on the education of our students.
When students vape in school bathrooms it can be due to an addiction to nicotine or THC that they have developed, peer pressure, or they are simply curious and want to try it out. In any case, spending excessive time out of class is heavily correlated to lower grades and understanding of material. Additionally, vaping on school grounds negatively impacts students and staff who do not want to be exposed to or breathe in vapor.
Vaping is prohibited by the Plainwell Community Schools Student Handbook, which all students and parents/guardians sign off on to acknowledge their understanding of the rules and behavioral expectations at our MS and HS. While we try to proactively educate to prevent any incidents, there will be consequences if a student vapes on school property. The consequences for vaping can include suspensions, expulsion, phone calls home, confiscation of the vaping device, and possible police involvement. Furthermore, if a student is an athlete in possession of a vaporizer, or is seen in the act of vaping, this is a violation of the chemical health rules of the MHSAA and the Plainwell Athletic Handbook and can result in loss of eligibility for a portion of the season.
Vaping devices are very small and can easily be hidden on a person or blend in with normal backpack items. Many of our students hide these devices in their undergarments. Like cigarettes, stores cannot sell vaping items to people under the age of 21. However, students report that they purchase the devices online or buy from older siblings, friends, or unfortunately even parents.
Plainwell Community Schools currently conducts Random Drug Testing for HS students involved in school related activities. Students that test positive lose access to those activities but have the opportunity to return early if they take a course on drug abuse and addiction provided by Allegan Community Mental Health (CMH). If you are concerned and decide you would like to have your child tested for drugs, this test can be conducted at school with your permission. If you choose to test and your child tests positive, this information will be kept confidential and shared only with you as the parent, there is not a school consequence at that point IF this request is made prior to an incident at school. Many times we simply don’t know what to do as parents and guardians, but we are here to offer support and we want to help you as a family to work with your child through this issue.
Our goal is also to partner with parents to help support our students in making positive decisions for themselves and the school community. Please consider having a conversation with your child today about this important issue. To help with the conversation, please visit www.talksooner.org, and https://www.vapeeducate.com/ca... which is a local resource provided by Allegan CMH that provides information on how to have the “drug talk” with your child. We are also providing additional resources attached to this email. If you need help or have concerns about your child, please contact us so we can work together to support you and your child.
Thank you for your help and your continued support of Plainwell Community Schools.
Matthew J. M. Montange
High School Principal
Middle School Principal
School Safety Officer