Duval charter school plans town hall after ‘rumors of edibles,’ vape pens found on campus

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The KIPP VOICE Academy, a charter school in Duval County, plans to conduct a mandatory town hall with its sixth grade team after a report of students vaping and that there were possibly edibles on campus, according to a school spokesperson.

Zac West, the director of the external affairs for KIPP Charter Schools, said they were informed of a group of students vaping on campus yesterday around 2 p.m.

“There were no edibles, anything besides vape pens found on the property of the school,” West told News4Jax. He said a vape pen contained a nicotine product, though it’s unclear how the pen was tested.

According to a statement issued by West, two vape pens were confiscated. He said the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office was contacted.

“Since we didn’t have illegal drug substances found on campus, (JSO) did not come out to the school,” West said.

West said all students involved were suspended for the “appropriate number of days” based on the school’s code of conduct.

Rhonda Lawrence said she got a call from the KIPP VOICE Academy, where her daughter attends school. She learned multiple students -- including her daughter -- were in trouble.

“They were about to kick the kids out. Some were going to be suspended because of an incident going on,” Lawrence said.

According to Lawrence, her daughter ate a cookie that she believed was laced with marijuana, which she didn’t realize when she ate it. She said she got it from a classmate.

“We went to the hospital and she had marijuana in her system. They said if she had any other drugs in her system, they could not identify it,” Lawrence said.

“We did look at camera footage,” West said. “There were no edibles or anything besides vape pens found on the property of the school.”

Lawrence’s daughter said she was aware of classmates using vape pens, but she said she did not vape.

“That’s my main problem. Why did my child get suspended? She didn’t purchase it. She didn’t sell it and they suspended her for a day,” Lawrence said.

Here’s the full statement from KIPP Charter Schools:

“Good afternoon. At approximately 2:00 pm yesterday KIPP VOICE Academy was informed that students were vaping on campus. We were also told that there were possibly edibles on campus. The Behavior Specialist Mrs. Flemming and Culture Specialist Ms. Davis investigated the situation. All students who were involved wrote statements separately and parents were contacted immediately.

“While statements were being written we went through bookbags and personal items in search of the vape pens and rumors of edibles. We were not able to find any edibles however we did confiscate two vape pens. JSO was contacted and we were told that because there were no legal [sic] substances found they were not going to come to the campus. We followed our code of conduct and all students involved were suspended for the appropriate number of days due to the unwarranted item on campus.

“Our next steps have been to conduct a mandatory town hall meeting for the sixth-grade team to ensure that we address the commitment of excellence and the status of our school culture. We are committed to the safety of all of our students on campus and we will continue to communicate with parents at a high level.”

The Drug Enforcement Administration is not investigating the incident, but they’ve spent the last several weeks encouraging parents to talk to their children about narcotics and what to watch out for on school campuses.

DEA Assistant Special Agent Mike Dubet says his agents have recently seized edibles that are clearly marketed for children.

“Items that look like Doritos, items that look like gummy bears that contain THC and other substances, so this is a big concern for us right now,” Dubet said.

It’s why federal agents are pleading with parents to keep an eye on their children.

Students who see classmates engaging in illegal drug activity on school campus are also being encouraged to say something.

“By all means, they need to report that to an adult,” Dubet said.

Though unrelated, the DEA recently issued a public safety alert on a sharp increase in fake prescription pills containing fentanyl and methamphetamine.

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