Free Lance-Star reporter Amy Umble covers Stafford County schools and other education issues

RSS feed of this blog

Stafford School Board considering change to cell phone policy

Stafford County students may be allowed to use their cell phones in school next year, under a proposed change to the Student Code of Conduct.

Now, students cannot use or display phones during the school day. Under the proposed rule, students would be allowed to use cell phones and other electronic wireless devices, with permission from administration.

“We recognize there will be growing pains,” said Daryl Nelson, director of administrative and legal services. “This is a huge change in direction, but we’re prepared to embrace it.”

Michael Byers, principal of Colonial Forge, said that a similar change in policy was instituted at the last school where he worked, and that administrators saw a drastic reduction in discipline referrals for cell phone use.

“Cell phones are a part of our lives,” he said.

Administrators said that principals are on board for these changes, including elementary school leaders.

School Board member Nanette Kidby was surprised to learn that elementary school students had cell phones and said that her own sons had to wait until they were 16 to get one (I include this information for the benefit of my son, who was not happy that he had to wait until he was 13 to get a cell phone).

School Board member Meg Bohmke asked, “What about etiquette?”

Nelson replied, “We’re for that.”

He then continued by saying that if students were allowed to use cell phones in the schools, there would be opportunities to teach them about etiquette and safety.

The proposed rule does state that cell phone use can’t interrupt testing or instruction.

School Board member Dana Reinboldt said that overall, she supports cell phones in schools, but wonders about sexting, bullying and cheating.

Nelson said that they were working on ways to deal with those issues.

This change to the Student Code of Conduct could clear the way for Bring Your Own Technology, a proposal that should come before the School Board soon. That pilot program would have students bring in laptops, phones, e-readers, tablets, etc. to use during class for educational purposes. School Board members have expressed some concerns with that program, namely how to make sure kids aren’t misusing Internet access and what to do about students whose families can’t afford the devices.