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EA Board, Police Warn Parents About Vaping

NVT PD: Several students have been treated following abuse of e-cigarettes

By T.J. Martin
The Tube City Almanac
March 17, 2024
Posted in: East McKeesport News, North Versailles Twp. News, Wilmerding News

(Source: Pennsylvania Department of Drug & Alcohol Programs)

North Versailles Twp. police and the East Allegheny School Board are warning parents about the dangers children face from vaping.

At this month’s school board meeting, Acting Superintendent Joseph DiLucente told the board that he and Norm Locke, North Versailles assistant police chief, sent letters to parents earlier this month warning of the dangers children face from vaping.

The school district letter, signed by DiLucente, junior high school principal Mark Draskovich and senior high school principal Brian Ferek, notes, “We have noticed an unfortunate upward trend in drug use among our student population and youth in the Mon Valley as a whole.”

“I ask that you address the dangers of drug use, particularly unknown substances in vape devices, with your children. In speaking with Norm Locke, Assistant Chief of NVPD, and reviewing recent confiscations of vaping devices at the high school, this is our chief area of concern,” the letter continues.

Under state and federal law, sale of e-cigarettes and vape pens to persons under age 21 has been illegal since 2019. That same year, the non-profit Truth Initiative, which works to cut tobacco use, estimated that 1 in 4 high-school students were using e-cigarettes and vape pens.

In North Versailles, officials said, an additional problem is that young people have been using vape pens in combination with prescription pills that in some cases were taken orally, but in other cases were crushed into powder and mixed with vape juice.

According to the letter, over the last few weeks, police and emergency medical providers have responded to incidents where high-school age children have overdosed or behaved erratically and required hospitalization.

“I feel it is necessary to inform and warn parents of this growing trend of vaping substances other than the already toxic chemicals intended for use in a vape device,” Locke said. “Please have realistic conversations with your children about how dangerous this is. The school systems and law enforcement cannot be effective in education or enforcement if it does not start in the home.”

In response to a question from an attendee at the school board meeting, DiLucente said vape pens don’t contain enough metal to be detected by the school’s metal detectors.

The letter says that East Allegheny school officials are taking a number of steps to curb what they call a “dramatic increase in vape pen use,” including:

• All restrooms will be closed during class changes until after the late bell rings, when restrooms will be available to all students with a pass;

• Any student who is found to be sharing a bathroom stall with another student will be searched for vaping paraphernalia;

• All vape pens confiscated will be tested for THC and other illicit substances;

• All students who show “reasonable suspicion of substance usage” will be asked to submit to a drug screening under the district’s previously enacted drug and alcohol policy. The policy is available on the district’s website.

T.J. Martin is a freelance writer from Trafford whose work has also appeared in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and Irwin Standard Observer.

Originally published March 17, 2024.

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