Tuesday, May 27, 2008

A Committee for Cellphone Policy

Last week, I posted as a precursor to my school district's plans to address the increasing disruptions caused by cellphones and other electronic devices (including iPods).
A committee was formed to discuss next year's policy changes before bringing it to the faculty (which won't happen until our June Faculty Meeting) for a vote. The committee was created by volunteer basis and included the Principal, Asst Principal, 3 teachers, and 4 students. The students were all members of the "Principal's Cabinet", which meets once a month to discuss student and faculty concerns.
A quick refresher on our current policy, followed by our proposed changes: (paraphrased)
Students must turn off their cellphones at 7:15am (upon entering the building), and must have them off and out of sight until 2:40pm (final bell).
1st Offense: Phone is confiscated by a member of the faculty and turned into the main office where the student can pick it up at the end of the school day.
2nd Offense: Phone is confiscated by a member of the faculty, turned into the main office, and must be picked up by a parent/gaurdian.
3rd Offense: Phone is confiscated, turned into the main office, and kept until the end of the school year.

Now, the committee all agreed that the current policy is causing headaches for the faculty, and parents are becoming more difficult to work with. So, our changes address both the need for a disruption-free learning environment, and the students' needs for connectivity. Here's what we came up (Note: most of these suggestions were brought to the table by the students and merely agreed/adapted by the faculty.):
Phones are turned off (not on silent/vibrate) at 7:15am (entering the building). Phones may be used during their lunch periods in the cafeteria and main commons area. Phones may be turned on at 2:40pm (final bell).
1st Offense: Device confiscated by member of faculty, and turned into the main office. Student is required to notify their parents to arrange for a pick-up time. (this was the old 2nd Offense). 2nd Offense (and consecutive): Device is confiscated by a member of faculty and turned into the main office. Student is responsible for notifying their parent/gaurdian to arrange for a time to pick-up the device, but only after serving a Saturday School detention (which are currently offered only twice a month.

The students in the committee also brought up a good point. Allowing students to use phones during their lunches is a positive reinforcement for keeping their phones off and out-of-sight. Also, if a student's phone rings during class because of a student at lunch texting/calling them, there will be a peer-aspect involved. I'm anxious to see what the staff thinks of this proposed new policy. If you have any thoughts, improvements, words of caution, or similar policies in your districts, please let me know in the comments!

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