Toolbox Tuesday: Let’s talk about vaping!

The Toolbox is our firm’s all day training program that focuses on the disciplinary options in dealing with students with disabilities.  Today we turn our attention to an issue that could affect any student: vaping. 

We got a new bill on this from the legislature this year—SB 21.  It raises the legal age for possession or use of tobacco or a vaping device to 21.  Using a vaping device at school is a Class C misdemeanor, as is smoking.   But before you ask your campus cops to issue citations to students for this you have to stop and think about another law.  Texas Education Code Section 37.143(a):

A peace officer, law enforcement officer, or school resource officer may not issue a citation to a child who is alleged to have committed a school offense.

That raises two more questions: who is a “child”? And what is a “school offense”?

For that we look to Texas Education Code 37.141:

“Child” means a person who is (A) a student; and (B) at least 10 years of age and younger than 18 years of age.

“School offense” means an offense committed by a child enrolled in a public school that is a Class C misdemeanor other than a traffic offense and that is committed on property under the control and jurisdiction of a school district.

Thus you cannot issue a citation for a Class C misdemeanor to a student ages 10-17, based on misconduct at school, unless it’s a traffic offense.  So let’s consider a possible scenario.  You come across two students who are sharing a vaping device at school.  One is 17 and the other is 18. The 18-year old can be cited for a Class C misdemeanor. The 17-year old may not. The 17-year old is a “child” and this is a “school offense.”  No citations.  However, your Code of Conduct prohibits the use or possession of a vaping device at school.  Section 38.006 of the Education Code requires that you do that.  So as to both students, you can apply the appropriate consequence from the Code.

Isn’t it fun to study the details of the law?  Thanks to attorney Doug Brock for his help on today’s Daily Dawg!


Tomorrow: SRO Training needed.