Should cell phones be allowed in school?
by Mike McCormick
Technology in the classroom has its place, but some educators say cell phones have become a distraction. One area high school has come up with a solution, but not everyone is happy with the decision. On Monday, students at Stanhope Elmore High School in Elmore County received a Yondr pouch to lock up their cell phones at the start of each school day.
ÒOur teachers on the building leadership team have some great concerns about instruction in the classroom,Ó said school Principal Ewell Fuller. ÒThey actually made a statement to me that we either have to choose to be cell phone police or teach class.Ó
Fuller says the goal is to cut down on distractions in the classroom. He says as they looked at the data, more than 80 percent of office referrals involved a cell phone.
“This is not a punishment. This is an opportunity for you to go in that classroom to get every minute of instruction that you can get from a teacher without the distraction of a cell phone,Ó said Fuller.
While the school looks at this as a positive, not all parents are on board. Parents feel like the school shouldÕve reached out to parents first. One parent said, ÒLocking up the cell phones is a safety issue. They need to discuss this with us, and we work together and resolve this issue.Ó Parents are concerned that they couldnÕt get a phone call if there was an active shooter or some other type of emergency situation. Fuller says Stanhope Elmore High School has received full support from the superintendent and the school board.
Stanhope Elmore High School is the only school of its size in the Southeast that is currently utilizing Yondr.
In Randolph County, students are allowed to have cell phones, but the rules are not quite as strict. According to the student handbook each student receives at the start of each school year, Randolph County Board of Education recognizes the privilege of student use of electronic devices to be essential to the 21st century educational process. School-provided devices are available to students for use on the school campus during school hours at teacher and administrator discretion. The use of any device requires students to abide by Acceptable Use of Technology Policy and classroom rules as set forth by the teacher. Students have the option to bring a device or devices to participate in the district wide bring your own device (BYOD) program. Students should recognize the limitations that the school imposes on their use of student owned device(s). For the purpose of this policy, cell phones are considered electronic devices.
The following conditions are set forth for the possession and use of an electronic device on campus:
- Students possessing an electronic device on campus must purchase an electronic device permit.
- Permits are $15 and can be purchased from the school office.
- Each device brought on campus must be registered at the school office. Students are responsible for keeping the device registrations current.
- Students must produce the permit upon request.
- Failure to have an electronic device permit will be considered a violation.
- Permitted electronic devices must remain OFF AND OUT OF SIGHT unless noted in lesson plans by teachers.
- In the event a cell phone is confiscated, the original SIM card must accompany the cell phone.
- Student participation in the BYOD program is a privilege and not a right.
- Using a recording function (image, video or audio) of any electronic device is prohibited and will result in a Level 3 referral and a loss of the privilege to have an electronic device on campus.
- During assessments all electronic devices will be taken up – including devices of school personnel involved in assessments.
- Electronic devices can be used for instructional purposes only with principal approval and documentation of the instructional purpose in the teacherÕs lesson plans.
- Storage locations will be provided in each classroom so that cell phones and devices will be stored and powered off during instructional time.
Students will be subject to the following consequences for the misuse of electronic devices as defined by the conditions set forth. If the student does not possess an electronic device permit, the student must purchase a permit at the time of the first offense and be assessed the penalty.
- First time _ Device confiscated and may be searched _ Parent/Student will be fined $20 for violation _ Warning and cell phone returned to student after fine is paid.
- Second time _ Device confiscated and may be searched _ Parent/Student will be fined $20 for violation _ Student may receive detention/suspension as determined by principal _ Cell phone will be returned to student after fine is paid and detention/suspension is served.
- Third and subsequent times _ Device confiscated and may be searched _ Parent/Student will be fined $20 for violation _ Student may receive detention/suspension as determined by principal _ Cell phone will be returned to student after fine is paid and detention/suspension is served.
Roanoke School Superintendent Greg Foster said their policy has been the same since 2011. “We haven’t changed our policy in any way since then and right now do not have any plans to change,” Foster said.
The policy states: Roanoke City Schools may permit any student to carry a pocket pager, cellular phone or other electronic communication device while on school property and may permit any student to use such devices when such use is expressly and specifically permitted by the school administrator, teacher or employee who is acting in a supervisory capacity at the time of the use. Any student found in violation of this policy may be subject to suspension or other disciplinary action by the school administration and/or the Roanoke City Board of Education.
Basically the policy says usage is up to the personnel in charge