Updated BAPS policy aims to cut down on student vaping, other illegal activity


By Brittany Harlow, Contributingh Writer

The latest round of Broken Arrow Public Schools (BAPS) Board of Education Policy Guide updates was approved at recently that includes a policy relating to strip searches at district schools.

Policy guide adoptions, revisions, and deletions are given first and second readings before official admittance.

The ongoing policy guide review process was slated to pick back up in October but, officials said, they were bumped up on the calendar due to the rise in students sneaking tobacco and marijuana contraband into district schools.

BAPS spokeswoman Tara Thompson said the strip search policy (4280) was reworded to give their administrators a little bit more leeway in searching students.

“Sometimes they're quite creative in the ways that they come up with getting around the rules, and so this policy adoption will allow our administrators to search things like outerwear in the winter time,” Thompson said. “Gloves, hats, coats, coat pockets, things like that. It just gives them a little bit more ability to do their jobs and keep our school safe.”

Thompson said the increase in vaping products that look like common items makes keeping the schools safe that much harder.

“Unfortunately, we see a lot of vendors that help students find creative ways to get around the rule,” Thompson said. “For example, if you see a highlighter that's not necessarily branded like what you might normally see, the writing on the outside of the highlighter, you might check that because it might be a vaping device. Or flash drives. I've seen some makeup products that are vape tools actually, even though that's not what they look like on the outside. So really, it's not difficult for students to get their hands on these things.

According to Tobacco Stops With Me (a program of TSET), 1300 Oklahoma children become new daily smokers every year. 88,000 of them will ultimately die prematurely due to smoking.

Health experts warn that despite the hype, vaping is not a safe alternative to smoking.

The Office of the Surgeon General reported the vapor produced by them is a toxic aerosol that contains cancer-causing substances. Other side effects include brain damage and lung disease.

“For those of us that have been around for a while, it was fashionable at one point to smoke cigarettes, and I think we now know what that has done to folk's health,” Thompson said. “There may not be the same body of research just yet because the vaping has not been around quite so long as cigarettes and tobacco use has, but there's certainly plenty of evidence out there and plenty of case studies to look at of young people that have ruined their health because of a bad habit that they didn't need to pick up in the first place.”

In Oklahoma, high schoolers smoke and vape at twice the national average.

Thompson said it will take constant vigilance in schools and at home to protect kids from dangerous substances.

“We just want to encourage parents to be involved in their kids' lives and in their social lives and ask lots of questions,” Thompson said. “And feel free to search and go through things that you might be paying for that you didn't know you were paying for.”

For children 13-17, the program My Life, My Quit is a free and confidential way to quit smoking or vaping. Teens who want to quit can text 36072.

Other policy updates adopted at Monday night’s board meeting include the deletion of a policy that allows residents to file complaints against the district (2040), replaced by a new policy for students and parents (4315) and a separate policy for district employees (5115).

The third set of policy updates (4400) was related to further limiting district transfers, which officials said was necessary to keep classroom sizes smaller.

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