The Student News Site of Derby High School

Panther's Tale

The Student News Site of Derby High School

Panther's Tale

The Student News Site of Derby High School

Panther's Tale

Page 1 – All students subjected to searches when staff alerted by vape detectors

If a vape detector goes off, every student in the bathroom at that time will be searched. 

Simply washing your hands? You’ll be searched. Fixing your hair? You’ll be searched.

That frustrates some students. 

Because while the searches have caught students with vapes – innocent students also have to go through the uncomfortable process after security has been notified.

“To be honest, I felt embarrassed and humiliated because I have never vaped before nor would ever vape, so it was a really shocking experience,” sophomore Ava Mbawuike said. 

Parents also questioned the situation.

“I was not happy and thought about calling the school because my daughter is a good student and has morals who I know wouldn’t vape in school or out of school,” said Ava’s mom, Crystal.

Here’s how it works:

A student vapes, vape detectors notify security. If no security member is in the vicinity, they watch the video from the cameras to find out which students were in the restroom.

Anyone in the restroom at that time is escorted to the office to be searched.

Assistant principals and security staff are responsible for searching students who were in a restroom when the alarm goes off. Principal Gretchen Pontious does not conduct searches.

In some cases, a handheld metal-detecting wand is used to search students in areas that are not visible. The problem with this is that if something is detected, administrators can’t do anything about it.

While some students have complained of being touched during searches, it is supposed to be no-contact.

“The detectors are a part of a district initiative to try and crack down on vapes in schools,” sophomore principal Justin McCubbin said.

The detectors were a pilot program in the middle school bathrooms in 2022-23. After a successful program, more were purchased and placed in the high school.

Administrators have found the new procedures to be successful.

“Our search procedure is for the most part pretty uninvasive. We search through belongings like backpacks, purses and such,” freshman principal Shawn Bennett said.

Even though it’s the last thing administrators and security want to do, they agree that it is the best way to keep students from illegally possessing vapes.

“We never search more than we need to; we want to respect students’ privacy,” McCubbin said. “However, in the name of keeping the school safe, if we have a reason to search, then we will do that in a no-contact way.” 

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