District 204 Grapples with Rising Trend of Vaping

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Last year, 313 District 204 students faced an out-of-school suspension.

That’s just 1.1 percent of the student population, and is representative of the downward trend of the use of suspensions since 2013, when 724 students were suspended.

Students face suspension when there is a threat to school safety, or if there is a disruption to other students’ learning opportunities.

“We’ve become much more selective for what behaviors we suspend for,” said Assistant Superintendent Laura Devine-Johnston. “The impetus of SB100 is that idea of keeping kids in schools, and using these two frameworks and suspending students just for these two behaviors really helps us do that.”

When students are suspended, the district has follow-up supports to try to change behavior for the better. Parent re-entry meetings, risk education, social and emotional learning, and a partnership with 360 Youth Services are all in place to help.

“Which then helps us to focus on building positive relationships with all students, we know it’s a collaborative effort with all staffers to make sure that all students feel like they belong,” said Assistant Superintendent Brad Hillman.

The level where suspensions increased was high school, and the growing trend of vaping may have something to do with that.

The trend comes from easy-to-conceal e-cigarettes with flavors attractive to youth.

“We also see that a lot of students are less afraid to try e-cigarettes since there’s no smoke, it’s just water vapor, an aerosol. But there can be harmful aerosols, just because something is termed a water vapor doesn’t mean it’s healthy for our bodies,” said Matt Cassity, alliance project coordinator for 360 Youth Services.

Vaping has even made its way to the district’s middle schools. To try to stop the trend, the district and 360 Youth Services are pushing education.

“We have research for decades that shows traditional tobacco is harmful,” said Cassity. “And we know that many of the same ingredients are found in e-cigarettes and as studies and science continue to develop we are confident that these chemicals will have the same impact with e-cigarettes and vaping products.”

District 204 is planning to expand its partnership with 360 Youth Services into all of its middle schools.

Naperville News 17’s Blane Erwin reports.