Chandler settles vaping suit, won’t discuss terms

The Chandler Unified School District has settled its lawsuit against Juul Labs Inc. and other vaping companies.

But district officials are not giving any details.

“Under advice of counsel, we cannot comment on the terms and conditions of the agreement between Chandler Unified School District and Juul Labs Inc. at this time,” said district spokeswoman Stephanie Ingersoll.

The CUSD Governing Board approved the settlement without comment March 8 in connection with a lawsuit the district filed on March 7, 2022.

It was one of hundreds filed by school districts across the country against the tobacco company, seeking compensation because they had to deal with the fallout of a teen vaping epidemic.

In the lawsuits, districts claim they had to devote resources to monitoring and policing vaping in school. Many started education campaigns to warn students and parents of the dangers of vaping. Both Kyrene and Tempe Union school districts have filed similar suits but have made no settlement yet.

The districts have accused Juul and others of marketing directly to children. The Wall Street Journal reported in December that Juul had agreed to settle more than 5,000 cases and 10,000 plaintiffs filed against them by school districts, local governments and individuals for about $1.7 billion.

The company had agreed in September to settle a multi-state investigation for $438.5 million.

Juul offered fruit and candy flavors, which proved popular with many teens. It is illegal for anyone younger than 18 to purchase e-cigarettes.

CUSD says it will use whatever money they get from the settlement to address vaping.

“We anticipate the settlement being used as compensatory redistribution by means of prevention, intervention and postvention programming to address the problems of youth nicotine and vaping addiction,” Ingersoll wrote.

The Palm Beach Post reported Palm Beach County School Board settled for more than $10 million over five years. The Chicago Tribune reported District U-46 settled for $1.2 million.

There are about 192,000 students in the Palm Beach district and 35,000 in the U-46 district. CUSD has about 45,000 students.

In other news from the March 8 meeting, the district is placing orders to purchase more school buses. What’s different is they are 2025 buses.

Lana Berry, the district’s CFO, said they have to purchase them this early because of supply chain shortages that are slowing down delivery. She said the district is still waiting delivery of buses it bought 18 months ago.

The Governing Board approved spending more than $1.8 million to buy 10 2024 special education buses and $2.5 million to purchase 10 2025 general education buses.

“Our orders that we placed in May of 2021 are still not here,” Berry told the board. She said while they are waiting for delivery, the bus manufacturers could raise the price and give the district a take it or leave it demand, knowing there are other districts in need of buses.

“We’re really at … their mercy,” Berry said. “We really need the buses.”

In addition to the buses the Governing Board approved the purchase of six smaller 2025 buses for $1.7 million. They have room for 47 passengers, the others seat 84. These would be for athletics teams and other smaller needs.

The district also added to its White Fleet by agreeing to buy eight Chevrolet 2023 vans for support services and one Equinox.

The total price of the 35 vehicles is $6.48 million.

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