Cell phones a no-no during school hours

September 05, 2006|by ERIN CUNNINGHAM

With an estimated 16 million teenagers nationally carrying cell phones, area school officials believe that means at least half of their high school students have one.

But they better not use them at school. In fact, leave them in your lockers, purses and pockets.

Teachers and administrators don't want to see cell phones and other electronic devices during school hours.

"They're a distraction, and when students are in class, we want them in class being attentive to the lesson, not typing messages or playing games," said Clyde Harrell, acting director of secondary instruction for Washington County Public Schools.

Harrell said the majority of the county's high schoolers most likely have cell phones.

The county's policy prohibits students from displaying cell phones and other communications devices from the time they board school buses until the end of the instructional day.

"They're not allowed to be used," Harrell said. "They're not allowed to be holding them, even if they're off."


Policies mostly were uniform across the Tri-State area.

In the Waynesboro (Pa.) Area School District, Superintendent Barry Dallara said there is no board policy on cell phones, but rules are outlined in the student handbook. Students may have cell phones, but may not use them or any other type of electronic device during the school day.

If students use the devices, they will be confiscated and returned at the end of the day.

At Chambersburg (Pa.) Area Senior High School, Principal Barry Purvis said officials there do not want to see cell phones or any other type of electronic communications device.

"Our policy is that as soon as you walk through the doors at the beginning of school, all of those things are put away," Purvis said. "Don't walk around with an iPod or cell phones. When the school day is over, you have access to those things again."

If students violate this policy, the items are confiscated, and the students' parents come to pick up the items from school.

"They're a complete distraction in the school," Purvis said. "People playing with iPods, cell phones going off, beepers going off. We're here for academics, learning."

Purvis said in the first few days of school at the high school, there had been one incident he could think of involving a cell phone.

"They have them, and it's a problem," Purvis said. "They think they can just use them like they have been all summer long."

In Berkeley County, W.Va., public schools, students may have electronic devices during school hours, but they must be turned off, spokeswoman Jaimee Borger said. She said the issue is not a problem in the county's schools.

Harrell said he wasn't sure if many Washington County students are violating the school system's policy. He said officials at Clear Spring High School reported they hadn't seen any increase in the number of students carrying cell phones to school this year, but there are some.

"They're not supposed to display them in school, so if they have them out, they could face disciplinary action," Harrell said. "We don't want to encourage students to have their cell phones out or be calling people during the school day."

Staff Writer Jennifer Fitch contributed to this story.

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