A seemingly innocuous-looking item that was confiscated at Upper St. Clair High School gave Jason Remmy an idea.
“I walked around and showed probably about 25 teachers this exact one,” the school police officer said as he displayed the item during the Jan. 10 meeting of the Youth Steering Committee of Upper St. Clair.
His question for the teachers: Do you know what it is?
“Some people said, ‘a flash drive,’” Remmy recalled. “I probably would have said the same thing. I’d never seen anything like this until the end of last year. I would have given this back to you and said, ‘Here’s your flash drive or whatever.’”
Some devices are sophisticated enough to feature electronic displays.
The device in question, with the brand name Juul, does hook up to a computer’s USB port to charge. Then it resumes its purpose as an electronic nicotine delivery system, or e-cigarette.
“Out of about 25 teachers, only two guessed what it was. Everybody else had no idea,” Remmy said. “Why would they know, if they’re not into that?”
He joined Michael Banaczak, also a school resource officer, and Tara Phillips, student assistance lead trainer for Gateway Rehab, in providing detailed information about a growing concern for educators and law enforcement officials.
“Every single school district that I know of is having issues with e-cigs and vapes,” Phillips said. “They’re small. They’re easy to conceal. Some of them don’t show any puff of smoke or any vapor coming off, so it’s not like if you’re sitting in the classroom, you’re going to see this cloud come out anymore.”
Upper St. Clair School District policy prohibits the use or possession of “electronic cigarettes, vaporizers, vaporizer accessories and/or liquid” in its regulations addressing alcohol,