School policies seek to silence cell phones

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Just picture it: As a classroom of students hunch over their desks concentrating on a pop quiz, the sound of Lady Gaga's "Poker Face" suddenly breaks the silence and one student fumbles to silence her cell phone.

Because of disruptions like this, schools are buckling down on cell phone policies.

As technology advances, so do the number of disruptions in classrooms, and school policies on the use of cell phones are constantly being modified. Although in some instances cell phones are necessary, abuse of phones in schools has the eyes and ears of teachers and principals wide open.

"If we see or hear [phones], we take" them, said Dr. Mike Cowan, Cape Girardeau Central High School principal.

"We understand the value and necessity of [phones], but there's a time and a place, and during a lecture is not the time," Cowan said.

Students are not allowed to use the phones in any circumstance. According to Central's student handbook, the use of cell phones by students in an emergency may cause a significant number of people to learn of the emergency and come to the school building out of concern or curiosity.

The minimum punishment at Central is confiscation of a cell phone, which can only be retrieved by a parent or guardian.

Because cell phones have also been cited in instances of bullying and cheating, policies are strictly enforced throughout several school districts. Violations of these rules can result in verbal warnings and confiscation or possibly suspension, based on the way the phone is used.

No schools allow phones to be used during the day, but some others go further and restrict possession.

Jackson High School principal Vince Powell said students are to have phones turned off and out of sight.

Kelly High School students are asked to keep their phones out of the building during the academic day, principal Dan Hecht said. The punishments at these schools depend on the usage of the phones.

Students at Notre Dame Regional High School can have their phones, but they must be silenced and remain in a locker, according to the student handbook. At the first violation, the principal will keep the cell phone and return it at the end of one full week. At the second offense, the phone will be returned after 30 school days.

Scott City High School prohibits possession of the devices. Students caught with their phones will have them taken away and returned at the end of the day. The second time it happens, a parent or guardian must retrieve the phone.

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