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Downers Grove

D-99 bans e-cigarettes

DOWNERS GROVE – Downers Grove School District 99 made several changes to its student handbook in May, including a specific ban on electronic cigarettes.

The code already banned tobacco products but did not previously list the relatively new devices that turn tobacco oils into inhaled vapors.

"So that is another addition (to the handbook) to reflect the changing times," South High School Associate Principal of Students and Staff Lukia Masterdimos told the school board May 19. "And the use of that device is becoming quite popular."

The annual handbook update is presented to the board following a collaborative meeting between principals and deans at the two high schools.

Like traditional tobacco products, possessing or smoking e-cigarettes will now be restricted on school grounds, in school buildings or at any school sponsored functions. This includes students who leave campus for the purpose of smoking and then return to campus, according to the handbook. Violations will result in disciplinary action.

The possession or use of tobacco or electronic cigarettes by students is also forbidden on field trips and activities sponsored by other schools in which students participate officially.

Unlike traditional tobacco products, possessing e-cigarettes on school property is not yet a violation of a village ordinance, Masterdimos said.

Other changes to the code include now allowing students to use their cellphones in the hallways and in the cafeteria, and during instructional time if allowed and supervised by a teacher or staff.

"As you've heard, the use of smart phones in the classroom has become a useful tool in a lot of ways," North High School Associate Principal of Operations Ken Sorensen told the board.

For example, he said students can use their smart phones as clickers, to answer questions in real time during a lesson.

"We also want to use this as a learning tool," he said. "If they're using it in a classroom when they shouldn't be, there are still consequences there. It is part of the real world, and beyond high school they're going to have to make decisions on when and where to use their cellphones. We see adults using it improperly, so I think there is also a learning aspect to this."

The district also updated its athletics code to specifically state that violations of the code must be reported to the administration immediately.

South High Athletic Director Randy Konstans said the district has seen an increase of "vindictive" code violation submissions. He gave an example of a student waiting until a playoff game or other important extracurricular event and then submitting nine-month-old photos of an athlete breaking a handbook rule.

"Our code is supposed to be about helping kids make healthy lifestyle choices," Konstans said.

Administration also added language to the book, giving specific examples of hazing in an effort to help coaches and staff identify it.

"We need to give more examples of what hazing is because it can be confusing," North High School Athletic Director Denise Kavanaugh said. "What's in everybody's mind can be different."

Examples of hazing included whipping, beating, branding, forced calisthenics, exposure to elements, sleep deprivation and forced consumption of food, alcohol or drugs, among other practices.

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