Liquid nicotine use in school sparks Cheney investigation

The Cheney School District has launched a sweeping investigation at the high school, after accusations of liquid nicotine abuse by students during class

CHENEY, Wash.—Accusations of students using liquid nicotine during classes at Cheney High School has the leaders within the Cheney School District investigating.

Teenagers were reportedly taking the nicotine solution, intended for e-cigarettes, mixing it with soda or juice and then drinking it to get high. One student even alleged that a teacher at CHS knew what students were doing.

The issue was brought to the attention of school administrators when one dad checked his daughter's phone on Sunday.

"She was texting at the dinner table, and I took her phone," he said.

What he found, he did not even recognize.

"We were wondering what the heck 'penguin' was," he added.

After some serious questioning, his daughter confessed she and her friends were talking about liquid nicotine. It is the solution designed for vaping and e-cigarettes.

She told her father that kids at school liked to mix the solution with soda or juice and drink it to get high. She claimed it was bigger than marijuana at school. She also told her dad that the liquid is profitable because teenagers deal it too.

KREM 2 News was able to get a hold of a price list which stated that $5 could get a teenager five drops of the e-cigarette liquid. For $40, a student can purchase 18mg bottle.

The dad told KREM 2 News he was floored.

"I was, I was irate, really," he said.

But then, he found something even more disturbing.

A text message dated April 1 claimed that a teacher at Cheney High School found out what penguin was. The text message exchange reads:

"She knows about everyone who used the code word penguin in front of her."
"So, does she know about me too?"
"Yeah, she's not on a tell, tho'"

The dad immediately contacted the school Monday, wanting to know why he, and other parents, had not been notified. He claimed he was put in touch with the school resource officer, but never heard from the principal, or anyone else.

On Tuesday, KREM 2 News took the same question directly to the Cheney Superintendent Dr. Deb Clemmons.

Clemmons declined to speak on camera. However, she told KREM 2 News that the teacher reported the incident to the Assistant High School Principal on Monday.

KREM 2 News' Whitney Ward asked why it took the teacher from April 1 to April 13 to report it. Yet, the CSD leaders did not believe there was an unreasonable delay as students were on spring break the week before it was reported.

Clemmons said the investigation is not complete, but she believed that everyone acted appropriately. At least one student was already suspended and more may also be suspended as this investigation continues according to Dr. Clemmons.


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