Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Superintendent Cell Phone Rules

Ready, Willing, and Abell
Below you will find the Superintendent's Rule for the new cell phone policy. It was presented to the Board of Education during the work session on June 26th. Please review and provide feedback.

Superintendent?s Rule 5157.8
Except as provided in this rule, students may not possess or use cell phones, pagers, beepers, two-way radios, or any other portable electronic communication devices on school property, on school buses or school-chartered vehicles, or at any school-sponsored activity before, during or after the school day.
Elementary and middle school students may not possess or use cell phones on school property except under the following conditions:
· A student may possess and use a cell phone, pager, beeper, two-way radio, or other portable electronic communication device if that student?s parent or guardian receives approval from the school principal for a specific purpose. At no time will permission for cell phone possession or use be granted for socializing or other non-essential purposes.
· A student may possess and use a cell phone while attending and not participating in any event held on school grounds after school hours and open to the general public.
High school students may not possess or use cell phones on school property except under the following conditions:
· Cell phones must not be visible and must be powered off at all times during the school day and either in the school building, or while aboard a school bus or other school-sponsored vehicle, or during after-school activities. A cell phone in the vibrate or other non-audible mode is not considered ?off;?
· Cell phones may be used after school hours, but not during a time when the student is either attending a school-sponsored activity not open to the general public, or participating in a school-sponsored activity, whether on or off school grounds. A student may possess and use a cell phone while attending and not participating in any event held on school grounds after school hours and open to the general public;
· In order to briefly communicate with the student?s parent/guardian/caregiver, a cell phone may be used while attending or traveling to or from a school-sponsored activity on a school bus or other school vehicle, as long as the supervising teacher/coach has granted the student permission. At no time will permission for cell phone use be granted for socializing or other non-essential purposes.
· A student may possess and use a cell phone if that student?s parent or guardian receives approval from the school principal for a specific purpose. At no time will permission for cell phone possession or use be granted for socializing or other non-essential purposes.
· The possession or use of a cell phone must not cause any disruption to the school setting at any time.
· Cell phones with camera functions must not be used to take or transmit any image at any time, even if the use of the cell phone is otherwise permitted.
It is the intent of the superintendent to ensure cell phone possession does not disrupt the learning environment, after-school activities, or the safe transportation of students. Therefore, students found to be in violation of this rule are subject to the following disciplinary action:
· Upon the first offense for middle and high school students
Ø The student shall be warned;
Ø The student?s parent or guardian shall be notified; and
Ø The cell phone or other portable electronic communication device shall be confiscated and returned to the parent or guardian, upon request, after a successful conference with the appropriate school administrator.

· Upon the second offense for middle and high school students
Ø The student shall be suspended out-of-school for three days;
Ø The student?s parent or guardian shall be notified; and
Ø The cell phone or other portable electronic communication device shall be confiscated and returned to the parent or guardian, upon request, after a successful re-admittance conference with the appropriate school administrator.

· Upon the third offense for middle and high school students
Ø The student shall be suspended to the superintendent;
Ø The student?s parent or guardian shall be notified;
Ø The cell phone or other portable electronic communication device shall be confiscated and returned to the parent or guardian, upon request, after a successful conference with the superintendent?s hearing officer; and
Ø The superintendent?s hearing officer may remove the privilege of possession and use of cell phones or other portable electronic communication devices.

· Upon the first offense for elementary school students
Ø The student shall be warned;
Ø The student?s parent or guardian shall be notified; and
Ø The cell phone or other portable electronic communication device shall be confiscated and returned to the parent or guardian, upon request, after a successful conference with the appropriate school administrator.

· Upon the second offense for elementary school students
Ø The student shall be suspended out-of-school for one day;
Ø The student?s parent or guardian shall be notified; and
Ø The cell phone or other portable electronic communication device shall be confiscated and returned to the parent or guardian, upon request, after a successful re-admittance conference with the appropriate school administrator.

· Upon the third offense for elementary school students
Ø The student shall be suspended out-of-school for three days;
Ø The student?s parent or guardian shall be notified; and
Ø The cell phone or other portable electronic communication device shall be confiscated and returned to the parent or guardian, upon request, after a successful re-admittance conference with the appropriate school administrator.


The Charles County public school system is not responsible for the loss theft, damage, or destruction of any cell phone, pager, beeper, two-way radio, or other portable communication device, whether allowed or prohibited by this policy.

10 comments:

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, abusers of any privilege seem to ruin it for everyone else. We as parents, depend on cell phones for our children to communicate with us on any delays in returning home; before and after school activity changes; last minute need to stay after school for studying or testing; the bus breaks down (parents are waiting for their kids at the bus stop); a call from a child when they walk from the school to a daycare facility in another building is most comforting; and other legitimate communication that reflects the well-being and safety of our children and students. There should be "0" tolerance for using cells phones for socializing on school property. It seems that there should be a penalty or fine administered to anyone taking photos of other students.

I hope we all can teach our children the responsbility and proper use of personal electronics in the school environment.

bandmom said...

I would like to know why the Superintendent feels that Middle School children should not be allowed to possess cell phone if turned off, just like the High School students. My daughter is frequently off school property for band competitions and all county, tri county type events. Why should she not be allowed to possess a cell phone turned off, accept for when she has permission to turn it on to make a needed phone call about arrival times for pick up?

Anonymous said...

For high school and middle school this rule is a wise idea since there is such a large usage of cell phones in our world today. Cell phones can be very distracting for educators and students alike, ie; incoming calls, taking pictures, playing games, talking, text messaging, etc.! These types of distractions take away from the learning environment schools provide, in and out of the classroom. Teaching, mentoring, supervising and learning is an on going event! As long as students are able to call their parents or care giver for a ride, for after school functions, the new rule is good/solid! It is not wise to ban cell phones completely from the property in case of emergencies such as Columbine and 9/11, etc. As for Elementary school; cell phone use should be prohibited at all times amongst the students. The parents need to have close tabs on their children and their schedules. If a phone call is required the coach, office,or teacher would have a phone to share!

Taxpayer Dad said...

As I read it, the policy in general appears consistent with that of other states as described in this Education World article found at the following website: http://www.education-world.com/a_admin/admin/admin393.shtml

I agree with bandmom's comments focused on middle school students. They are as active these days (and you want them to be so you can garner those Blue Ribbon accolades and funding) as we were in High School. Additionally, due to the never-ending redistricting saga, we no longer live near the schools we send our middle and high schoolers to. Therefore, a measure of preplanning and awareness is needed to ensure that no student is left waiting in a dimly lit parking lot for her ride. Especially, when the means to coordinate that ride is in her purse or his pocket. We had a very active middle and high schooler and spent an inordinate amount of time waiting in parking lots for late busses etc. It seems that an exception should exist for students to notify parents of planned returns while "on the bus returning from a school sanctioned activity". This would be in keeping with the intent of the policy, ensuring the utmost safety of our children and at the same time valuing our time as well.

I am curious however about the policies pertaining to staff and teacher's cell phone usage on school property and during the school day. I am an employer and find that abuses of cell phones by adults can also impair the work environment which in this case is shared by the students. If we are concerned about the "learning environment" then let's acknowledge that setting an example is a powerful teaching tool. So my question is, what if any policies or restrictions are in place on the use of cell phones by school employees during the work day?

Anonymous said...

As a teacher, I think this policy is very reasonable! We are held accountable for everything that goes on in our classrooms, but our ability to maintain an environment suitable for uninterrupted teaching is being threatened constantly.
I know that parents are concerned for the safety of their children and the schools have the same concern in mind. The schools have policies and procedures that address all emergencies.
Teachers and administrators are professionals who have been trained and continue to be trained on how to do their job and how to take care of the always-increasing demands of the children. This policy is just another was to show that Charles County educators are committed to what is best for the children.

Anonymous Student said...

I think that the new cell phone policy is outrageous. Being a student, I understand the diffuculties faced everyday with staying after school, trying to find rides, etc. Most times when I have to stay after for a test or extra credit, I dont know until the day of, and searching for a teacher that will let you use the school phone is very hard. I think that under certain circumstances and with permission the students should be allowed to use their cell pones without such a harsh punishment.

Anonymous said...

This is the current policy and it has worked mostly. I would like to see that middle school students would be permitted to transport a cell phone to and from school and keep them in their lockers at school. This will greatly increase the safety of my daughter who has to walk to and from school each day. You only need to watch the news to see that this is a reasonable request. Problems do even occur in Charles County.

Anonymous said...

Middle school and high school kids are just as busy as each other these days. With the change in schedules, from band, to drama club, to debate, to Latin club, to track, football, cheerleading, soccer, baseball, etc. etc., communication amongst parents and children is essential, most especially when there is more than one child to keep track of! To get permission to use a cell phone should not be hard when there is always a coach or teacher amongst the mix. The other times in the school day, a cell phone should not be on at all!

Anonymous said...

I've read the cell phone rules 3 times now & still cannot figure out when students can & cannot use cell phones...& I'm a rocket scientist. I guess I should've been a lawyer to understand this. Which one of our founding father's wrote this declaration of non-independence? For example, what does the following passage mean: Cell phones may be used after school hours, but not during a time when the student is either attending a school-sponsored activity not open to the general public, or participating in a school-sponsored activity, whether on or off school grounds???

Cell phones enable better communication for coordinating with parents & also helping to ensure students' safety. But it's absolutely necessary to restrict cell phone usage for socializing & so as not to disrupt school activities. Why can't the rule just simply state that without all the specific legal-type language?

Jennifer Abell said...

Thank you for all the information and opinions on the new cell phone rules. Please keep them coming and email the sight to everyone you know! The more community opinions I can receive the better. I will be trying to post new topics once a week, generally on the weekends. If you have suggestions, please let me know. I am currently monitoring posts, but only for language not content. I WANT to hear the negative too.

As for the one Anonymous post about this being the current cell phone policy, that is incorrect. The previous policy, which is what I think you were refering to, did not allow for students to use cell phones on school grounds at all, even events open to the public. In addition, the punishment was one day suspension, even for the first offense. The Board recently adopted a new cell phone policy which basically states we are leaving all the details up to the Superintendent to place in rules. (For clarification, the Board passes policy and then the Superintendent provides the rules to align to the policy.) Hope this clears up some confusion.