Citing the comments of some of last year's graduating seniors as support, on Wednesday night Claremont's school board voted to ban the use of cell phones in class.
School board members noted they sat down with last year's graduating seniors and heard the students' concerns that the rules about cell phones were inconsistent, varying from one teacher to another. The board voted that Claremont schools will follow SAU#6 policy, prohibiting all use of cell phones in the classroom. Students will be able to use their cell phones in the hall and during non-class times.
“Cell phones have become an issue for a variety of reasons,” said high school principal Patricia Barry. “They're a great tool, but frequently abused and misused.”
The ubiquitous devices are used not only for communication between students and their friends, but by parents keeping in touch with their kids. Many teachers say they occasionally ask students to look something up on the internet by using their phones; others allow students to use headphones and plug into their phones for music when they are working on a project.
However, the phones are also used by students for cheating and to bully one another. “The school board's concerns are certainly legitimate,” said Barry. “I did not disagree with them in any way, shape or form.”
“Some of the things I've been trying to embed with our students are being present and being mindful. How do we appropriately educate our students on how to use cell phones? It's a device that's now pervasive in every way,” said Barry. “The [inappropriate] use of social media is a growing problem.”
Barry said she expects this to be an ongoing problem, one faced by school districts across the country. Will the policy be workable when school opens?
“I'll find out,” she said. “We're at a tipping point.”
Students who have been warned not to use their phones inappropriately have their phones confiscated by the teacher and brought to the principal's office. On the second offense, the school holds the phone and requires a parent or guardian to come in. On a third offense, students receive in-school suspension without the phone, or out-of-school suspension.
Barry said kids occasionally choose to leave school rather than be separated from their phones.
“I think getting kids to see that life goes on when your cell phone goes off is not a bad thing.”
-- GLYNIS HART