Local mother wants more done to stop vaping in Middle Tennessee schools.

Does your kid vape? Investigative reporter Lindsay Bransom digs deeper into vaping habits in schools.
Published: Apr. 11, 2022 at 7:06 PM CDT
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WSMV) -A Middle Tennessee mother wants you to see the video of her daughter getting high at school by vaping, and she says nothing is being done to stop it.

When she couldn’t get answers from her child’s school district, she contacted News4 Investigative Reporter Lindsay Bramson, who took a closer look at how districts are combatting the growing problem.

Watching the video of her daughter vaping in gym class at school leaves Kellie Gomez almost in tears each time she sees it. Her daughter is a student at Lewisburg Middle School. Because of her age, we’ve chosen not to show her face in the video.

“I felt confused, I felt upset, and I felt betrayed,” said Gomez.

Gomez said her daughter came home from school so inebriated, and she rushed her to the ER where doctors confirmed she had THC in her system.

“I said I’m going to ask you something and I want you to be completely honest. Have you been vaping? We asked her where she got it, and she said she got it from school, said Gomez.

And News4 Investigates uncovered vaping is a growing problem at schools all over Middle Tennessee.

“She said there are kids who sell it and they do it in all the bathrooms. I was devastated. This is my 14-year-old little girl,” said Gomez.

“I really feel like the number is a lot higher than the number we confiscate,” said Captain Scott Moore with the Wilson County Sheriff’s Office.

Captain Moore says more than 700 vapes have been confiscated at schools in Wilson County over the last three years. That’s more than any district News4 Investigates looked into.

“We’ve had students transported to the hospital because of vaping,” said Captain Moore.

Captain Moore says they do their best to keep vapes out of underage hands by cracking down on sellers. So News4 Investigates called around to other districts and sheriff’s departments to find out what they’re doing to tackle the problem.

In Metro Schools, they do random drug searches. And Rutherford County says they rely on reports from students. But look at the measures we found happening in Montgomery County schools.

Three high schools have smart sensors in the bathrooms that can detect vaping, and the plan is to install them in every school.

As for Marshall County schools, where Gomez’s daughter attends, they declined our request for an on-camera interview, only saying in an email, in part “The district is working diligently with staff and local law enforcement to enforce its laws and policies.”

“Yes, they could definitely be doing more,” said Gomez.

More to keep other parents from seeing videos like this of their children.

“My 14-year-old is introduced to this and it’s not even at a party outside school. It’s at school. My biggest fear is somebody’s going to get hurt,” said Gomez.

In Tennessee, you must be 21 to legally buy a vape. Local law enforcement tells News4, that 61% of stores are selling vapes to those who are underage. Here’s more on what area districts had to say about their policies on vaping:

Here’s a statement from Metro Schools regarding vaping:

Metro Nashville Public Schools does participate in the Nashville Thrives Coalition led by STARS that seeks to address substance abuse issues, including nicotine.

The MNPS Security Department assists schools with random searches for drugs, weapons, or other prohibited items upon request. Generally, school administrators have in place their own plans to address behavioral issues among their students

Metro Schools

Marshall County Schools issued a statement regarding their policy.

It is the mission of Marshall County Schools to provide a learning environment that is safe and drug free. Drugs, tobacco, vapes, and all associated paraphernalia are against state law and board policy. We work diligently with school staff, local law enforcement, and our juvenile court to enforce our laws and policies. It is our goal to create a school environment that is both conducive to learning and something in which our community can be proud.

Marshall County

Wilson County Schools issued a statement about their vaping policy.

Because we are now into some years of experience with “the vaping era,” our teachers, administrators, staff and SRO’s have learned to pick up on clues that indicate that a student may be in possession/or using an e-cigarette or vaping device. Each situation/set of clues is handled on a case-by-case basis, but sometimes non-offending students are able to alert staff to these devices as well – which is helpful.

According to our 2021-2022 Student Handbook, the possession or use of these devices is classified as a Category 4 Offense, following Due Process for the student.

Wilson County Schools

Here’s a statement from Rutherford County Schools regarding their policy on vaping:

The SROs perform lesson plans throughout the district to increase the knowledge of the dangers of vapes for the students.

Generally, the vapes are reported by other students to the SROs or school faculty. We have good kids that don’t want these things in our schools.

Due to the rapport the SROs have built with the students, many times they feel comfortable reporting things like this and other incidents to the SROs.

If it is reported to the SROs, the SROs contact school administration and advise them. The SROs will assist the administrators in anyway they can.

If a vape is located and determined that it contains THC, the officer has the discretion to issue a citation.

Whether it is determined that the vapes contain THC or not, all incidents are reported to the school administration. It is up to the administrators of the school to determine discipline for each individual incident and the student’s found in possession of such instruments. The discipline decision is separate from the decision by the officer’s decision on whether to issue a citation or not.

Rutherford County Schools

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