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What will keep cell phones in lockers?
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The cell phone policy on school campuses brought a lengthy discussion during Tuesday's Liberty County Board of Education work session.
Interim superintendent Harley Grove explained it was put on the agenda to get the board thinking about changes to next year's student code of conduct. Revisions need to be complete by the end of next month.
The current policy for requires students to keep any cell phone turned off and in their locker during the instructional day.
However, the board continues to receive reports from both middle and high schools having recurring classroom disruption because of cell phones.
A buzz or catchy ringtone going off in the middle of a lecture is not the only issue. The text-messaging feature on many phones can compromise academic integrity.
"The concern from the administrators have been that when they have them in the classroom they text one another and share answers or questions from tests," Grove said.
Cell phones are considered contraband and the consequences for having them during the day range from confiscation to in-school suspension, based on the number of repeated offenses.
"Many of them operate on the idea that they're not going to get caught," Grove said.
But when the schools are under a lockdown and students are searched, forced to take everything out their pockets, administrators often find cell phones.
Parents are required to pick up confiscated phones from school if their child is caught.
Board members said this punished parents more than the student, since the parent most likely paid for the phone and is inconvenienced by having to come to the school to pick it up.
Board Chairwoman Lily Baker agreed that the code needs strict consequences for being caught with a cell phone.
It was suggested keeping the phone for the remainder of the school year.
"But you're putting too much responsibility on a principal to keep up with a phone that belongs to (the student) until the end of the year," Baker said. "If it (cell phone) disappears, then they (the principal) are responsible."
Carol Guyett still suggested confiscating the phone for a week so the batter would likely go dead and requiring the student to recharge it.
"That gets the kid's attention," Guyett said. "More so than putting them in ISS for three days."
Baker said she could see the week-long confiscation working, with repeated offenses calling for added weeks of punishment.
Board members also considered a student's need for a cell phone to get in touch with parents for after-school activities.
"I think if we make the punishment known though, the child that's using the phone for the right reasons is not going to be using it (during the school day)," Guyett said.
The board decided to wait for input and recommendation from the principals before settling on the wording of next year's cell phone policy.
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