GLOVERSVILLE -- A "vape pen" e-cigarette combusted inside a students pocket at Gloversville Middle School Friday, injuring the student and temporarily shutting down the school, the school district said.
The Gloversville Enlarged School District issued a news release Friday explaining that smoke from the malfunctioning vape pen triggered the middle school's fire alarm at approximately 11:30 a.m. Students and staff immediately left the building as the Gloversville Fire Department and the district’s school resource officer responded to the scene. The school day resumed after the fire safety protocol was executed.
The student, who had been in possession of the e-cigarette, was evaluated by the school nurse and then taken to the hospital for burns, the district said. The name and condition of the student was not released.
Gloversville Superintendent David Halloran said it was a male eighth-grade student who was injured. He suffered minor burns, but is going to be OK, Halloran said.
A vape pen is a form of e-cigarette that enables the user to inhale vapor containing aerosolized liquid nicotine and other chemicals. Although e-cigarettes are often marketed as a safer alternative to traditional tobacco cigarettes, the potential health risks associated with vaping have come under increasing scrutiny in recent years.
Halloran said Gloversville has confiscated other vape pens over the course of the 2018-19 school year. He said it is a prevalent problem that many school districts face.
"Kids think it's safe, and it's obviously not," he said.
Halloran said the student who brought the vape pen to school will face discipline in accordance with the school Code of Conduct and the school district's policy prohibiting any form of tobacco or e-cigarette on school grounds. He said the child will not be referred for any criminal charges.
No other students or staff were injured during the incident.
“Vaping is becoming a serious problem in schools across the country," Halloran said in the news release. "The health dangers are clear and today’s incident underscores another danger these vape pens pose. The effects of this malfunctioning device could easily have been far worse. I implore parents to speak to their children about the dangers of e-cigarettes.”
Halloran said he plans to meet with his administrative team on Monday to determine how the incident can be communicated to students as a "teachable moment" about the potential dangers of e-cigarettes.
In July 2017 Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed into law legislation that banned the use of electronic cigarettes on all public and private school grounds in the state. The ban came after a state Department of Health survey showed e-cigarette use by high school students nearly doubled from 10.5 percent in 2014 to 20.6 percent in 2016.