Jackson County Schools to install vape detectors, drug test random students

The district has already installed the devices in bathrooms at East Central High as a pilot.
Published: Mar. 15, 2023 at 4:42 PM CDT
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VANCLEAVE, Miss. (WLOX) - The Jackson County School District is cracking down on student vaping and drug use.

Superintendent John Strycker said the district is purchasing vape detectors to install in bathrooms across its middle and high schools.

“It’s become more of a serious issue,” he said. “With the vaping, there can be drugs through that system.”

Because the two sometimes go hand in hand, Strycker said the district is also revamping its drug testing program and will soon begin testing students at random.

“We’re not trying to create an environment where everybody’s looking over their shoulder, but it’s because we care about them, and we want to isolate this very serious problem,” Strycker said.

Michael Rauch teaches history at Vancleave High, and he notices the issue often.

“We have the nice bathrooms down on our hallway down there, and it’s an everyday struggle with boys coming down there, primarily boys, going to the bathroom sneaking it. Two, three boys per stall,” he said. “It’s generally a red flag for me that, ‘Oh, we were just using the bathroom,’ and they come crawling out of there and I say, ‘Well it doesn’t smell like you’ve been using the bathroom. It kind of smells like some sort of citrusy or cotton candy flavoring.”

The new equipment will notify administrators when it detects vapor.

“I know there’s going to be some critics calling it an invasion of privacy,” Rauch said. “But frankly, it’s preventing something that I think is, like I said, it’s been problematic for years.”

The district has already installed the devices in bathrooms at East Central High as a pilot.

Strycker tells WLOX he is pleased so far with the effectiveness.

“Any dependency that any of our students would have or any type of addiction a student would have makes learning very secondary,” he said. “And I want to make sure people know that we care about our children as individuals.”

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