Students of all ages at a special school in Queensland are permitted to smoking and vaping breaks to reduce stress and disruptive behaviour during class, parents and former staff have revealed.
It’s understood Arethusa College’s Deception Bay campus north of Brisbane implemented the policy several years ago, despite staff raising concerns.
More than 50 students are believed to be on a list as permitted to smoke or vape and even have a designated area.
While the college seeks permission from parents, one claims that their child was allowed even after they informed the school they didn’t want to child smoking at school.
It’s illegal to supply cigarettes or e-cigarettes to anyone under 18. Queensland legislation also states that education facilities, both public and private are smoke-free.
Arethusa College insists that it’s ‘never been found in breach of our legislative duties’.
‘We have been open and transparent with public health authorities,’ executive principal Lisa Coles told the publication.
‘We have seen the majority of young people who come to us with a nicotine dependency leave our College without one.
She added the collge took a transparent approach to smoking or vaping dependency without judgment while addressing the issue with students through a ‘rigorous education program.’
Daily Mail Australia doesn’t suggest that the school is providing cigarttes or vapes to students.
Former staff have spoken out about the policy, claiming the college’s approach was that ‘if they (particular students) are triggered, let them go and have a smoke’
Another ex-staffer described the policy was counter-productive.
One parent claimed that their child is now vaping, despite telling the college they did not want their child smoking at school.
‘They (the college) said they (students) are going to do it anyway, so they would rather they do it in a designated area where they are safe and supervised,’ the parent said.
Queensland Health said the Metro North Public Health Unit has engaged with the school regarding regulatory compliance and provided resources.