Cell Phone Use in Schools - Code of Conduct Changes

The School Board has been debating proposed changes to the Code of Conduct that would allow high school students more freedom in using cell phones during school hours.   In a proposal brought to us by school principals the Code of Conduct would be changed to allow high school students to use cell phones in the hallways between classes, during lunch, and before and after school.

Several members of the School Board were concerned with these proposed changes.  Many teachers spoke out voicing their concerns that this policy would lay more of a burden on them in monitoring and enforcing the policy change.  In an effort to alleviate concerns some members of the School Board proposed adding a “pilot” program that would require the School Board to evaluate the changes next year.   In theory if allowing greater use of cell phones in school proves to be detrimental to the school environment we can remove the policy changes.

In response to concerns of members of the School Board a survey was sent to teachers asking them their views on the policy change.   I also conducted a survey of parents in the Falmouth District.  Both of these surveys showed there was very little support for allowing students to use cell phones in hallways between classes.  In the survey that I conducted over 75% of the respondents were against allowing students to use cell phones in the school hallways between classes.

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Despite the objections of changing the policy a majority of the School Board voted to approve the proposed changes.   Starting in the upcoming school year high school students will be allowed to use cell phones before and after school, during lunch and in the hallways between classes.   

You can read more about action taken by the School Board on Fredericksburg.com

I did not support the motion to make these changes in the Code of Conduct.   I was convinced by the many teachers, staff, parents, and students that allowing students to use cell phones in the hallways between classes would be detrimental to the educational environment and put a greater burden on the teachers.  I am disappointed fellow members of the School Board did not have the same perspective I had and the majority prevailed to make the proposed changes. 

I will be watching and listening for how these changes work out.  If it becomes clear that the loosening of rules on cell phone use puts a greater burden on teachers and is detrimental I will recommend reverting the policy back to limiting use of cell phones by students to before and after school.

 

Adopted Changes to the Code of Conduct:

Rule 11 in the Code of Conduct:

11. Cellular phones, electronic and wireless devices, use or display of by students at all school levels in any testing or instructional setting or while on the school bus unless authorized by staff. “Use” shall be defined as the device being turned on or otherwise activated whether or not sending or receiving a call, message, or other communication, or using any feature of the device including,but not limited to games, camera, instant text messaging,or other feature; “display” shall be defined as possession in such manner that any portion of said device is visible to others ; Minimum of warning to maximum of expulsion, with the balance to be served as the result of suspension carrying over to the succeeding school year. High school students shall be permitted to use such devices: upon arrival at school until the start of the school day; during lunch while in the cafeteria or other authorized area; during the change between classes while in the hallways, common areas, or other authorized areas; and, after the dismissal of school. Students are prohibited to use or display such devices at other times and in other settings unless expressly authorized by staff.

Middle school students shall be permitted to use such devices: upon arrival at school until the start of the school day and after the dismissal of  school. Students are prohibited to use or display such devices at other times and in other settings unless expressly authorized by staff.

Elementary school students shall not be permitted to use or display such devices while on school grounds unless expressly authorized by staff. Students shall be required to store such devices in their backpacks or in other school containers.

 This Rule is adopted by the school board as a pilot and only for the 2014-15 school year. It is subject to amendment during the course of the school year. If amended, students shall be provided advance written notice prior to implementation. The Rule  shall be reviewed by the board prior to the 2015-16 school year and may, or may not, be readopted. If not readopted, the board may reinstate the Rule in effect for the 2013-14 school year, or adopt such other rule determined by the board to be appropriate.

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@scotthirons tweeted this page. 2014-06-25 09:24:07 -0400
Scott Hirons, Stafford County School Board - Falmouth District posted about Cell Phone Use in Schools - Code of Conduct Changes on Scott Hirons, Stafford County School Board - Falmouth District's Facebook page 2014-06-25 09:24:07 -0400
Cell Phone Use in Schools - Code of Conduct Changes

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