Editor’s Note: CCS Superintendent of Schools Bill Crankshaw sent this cautionary letter to parents.
Dear Parents and Caregivers,
Cooperstown Central School District has experienced a sharp increase in “vaping.” This dangerous trend is a common concern in almost all schools nationally. Locally, the most current Youth Risk Behavior Survey (2018) indicates that 44 percent of high school students, grades 9-72, in Otsego County have used vapor products. This is a staggering statistic and evidence for concern.
We plan to increase our efforts to protect our students from the use of e-cigarettes, vape pens, or juuls, which use a liquid solution comprised of nicotine, crystallized marijuana (THC) and other dangerous substances imbued with attractive flavors. Current policy addresses tobacco, nicotine and other substances that are prohibited from use by students in school. Regulation and our Code of Conduct are consistent with policy. However, deep knowledge of vaping by the general public, including parents and caregivers – and all threats associated with it – is either unknown, misunderstood, or misrepresented.
We are concerned that vaping is an incredibly discrete practice that is very difficult to assess. Many students feel that vaping is not as unsafe or somehow not as illegal as using tobacco, nicotine or marijuana. Flavored vape products are extremely popular among youth, and play a major role in undermining efforts to take tobacco use seriously. We realize that, in Otsego County, like most New York State counties, the legal age to purchase nicotine is 18 years of age. However, our students are at risk – their developing brains are vulnerable to addiction, and we need your help to carry our concern communitywide.
Our Code of Conduct does not allow for the use of tobacco or nicotine products on school property, regardless of age. Furthermore, our Code of Conduct directs the behaviors of all visitors, employees and students of the Cooperstown Central School District. Our most urgent concerns at the time of this letter lay with our students. Therefore, any student found to be in possession or using tobacco or nicotine products in any form, including vaping will be subject to the CCS Code of Conduct for Students.
Our principals, Mr. Brophy and Mrs. Meccariallo, will require support from everyone, including parents and caregivers, as they continue in their diligence to prevent and stop vaping. They will educate, investigate, and provide appropriate consequences for students as the need arises.
Vigorous enforcement of the Code of Conduct is one prong of our work to protect our students against the perils of vaping. We will work with law enforcement to identify persons or businesses that sell vaping supplies to our students. We have also supplied information for 9th- and 10th-grade students through last spring’s Health Fair in the junior/senior high school, but are also planning a steady diet of educational sessions for students, parents and the community on vaping and substance abuse, in general. Knowledge is power, and addiction in new forms, like vaping, is a pervasive threat to all of our students.
Please note the following links to more information about vaping and its associated health risks. You should also have access to the District’s Student Code of Conduct to review with your child.
The entire team at CCS looks forward to working with parents and caregivers in our communities to combat disturbing trends that compromise our students’ health and safety, as well as their access to all the opportunities that Cooperstown can provide for them.
Please contact any of us at Cooperstown for help or information, but especially our knowledgeable and helpful counseling staff and principals when you need support.
Spread the word – we need to work together as new trends emerge that threaten the health and safety of our children and learning environment.
Dr. William Crankshaw is Cooperstown Central School District superintendent.