Students vaping liquid THC (the active ingredient in marijuana that makes people high) at Lamar High School has caused more than 30 expulsions and felony charges of possession and/or use of a controlled substance in a drug-free zone.
Lamar’s principal Andy Hagman expressed that much of his frustration comes from watching kids make poor decisions regarding their life and their body. He said he has invested well over 60 hours, from this school year alone, in dealing with expulsions, paperwork and phone calls to parents.
“The decision to use is another example of life, in that there is risk and reward in everything that you do,” Hagman said. “The more careful you choose, the more you protect your freedom.”
Because public schools, such as Lamar, are considered drug-free zones, there is an additional weight added to a legal charge. If someone is suspected of smoking liquid THC, school resource officers have the ability to conduct a field test on the suspect. If that person tests positive for any drug use, this includes liquid THC, an on-campus officer will make a charge.
“I mean, it’s a felony,” Luke Millea, a senior at Lamar, said. “That stays on your record. You’re going to have trouble getting a job. You’re not going to be able to vote. You have to bring it up in any interview. If those are the repercussions, then it seems logical that vaping liquid THC is one big, clear, flashing no-no.”
From there, the school is required to conduct a Level One expulsion hearing, and the student will be given a 60-day assignment to the Tarrant County Juvenile Justice Alternative Education Program. Hagman described the JJAEP as the more intense version of a Turning Point assignment.
Some students believe drug use on campus is detrimental to the student doing it and also to the people around them.
“I personally don’t care what someone does, but just keep it off school property,” Millea said. “Not only does it disrupt people’s day, but smoking in a public area like that is just like asking to get caught. Especially if you know it is grounds for a felony.”
Lamar does provide a Drug and Alcohol Intervention Program in the PEP office, near the main office, with Stephanie Jurgens. Hagman said anyone who is concerned with their own drug use, or a friend’s drug use, may find confidential help through this program.
“Take care of your body,” Hagman said. “Breathing in bad chemicals is not good for you. The short-term benefits do not come close to the long term costs.”