Every year, parents ready their students for school by purchasing items needed for the new school year. Just as pens and binder paper have been a staple from the past, now technological devices are often counted among back-to-school “must haves” by students. Number one on their list is often a cell phone. Students living in the heart of the Silicon Valley are among some of the most technologically geared kids in the country and the use of cell phones is everywhere…including school campuses.
Cell phones are now a standard way of communication among teens. According to a 2010 Pew Research study, “Cell-phone texting has become the preferred channel of basic communication between teens and their friends, with cell calling a close second…Fully 72 percent of all teens — or 88 percent of teen cell phone users — are text-messengers.”
The problem with cell phone communication on school campuses is that there isn’t supposed to be any. San Jose Unified schools have strict policies on using cell phones while on campus. “Some schools banned pagers and cell phones starting a decade ago because of their connection to drug and gang activity, as well as due to the disruption to classes,” according to National School Safety and Security Services. The handbook policy on cell phone school use is expected not only be followed by students, but by their parents, too. And sometimes lack of parental control is the problem.
One teacher at a local San Jose High campus says parents often contact kids not only between classes, but during class time. For instance, “Parents will text or call their kids to let them know they are in the parking lot to pick them up for an appointment, rather than going to the office to check them out.” he says.
Teachers are given the unwanted role of playing “cell phone monitor” by having to confiscate cell phones when these events occur, causing unnecessary conflicts between teachers and students. The SJUSD teacher is required to either return the phone at the end of the day, or keep it until the principal has a chance to contact the student’s parent. Parents are then likely to contact the school upset and wonder why this happened.
Parents can help the school district avoid any needless conflicts by understanding what the handbook policy is at their student’s school. For San Jose Unified schools, the 2010-2011 school year rules allow students to ”possess or use personal electronic signaling devices including but not limited to pagers, beepers, and cellular/digital phones, except those devices with the capability to capture digital images and/or take photographs of any kind, [which] shall be prohibited.”
If your student has a cell phone at school, according to the handbook, it must not be a camera or video phone, and it must be kept turned off inside a backpack or purse during school hours, while on a school bus, or “while under the supervision and control of school district employees.”
The only exception to this rule is for students with medical issues that have “determined it is essential for the pupil’s health to have immediate use of the cellular phone for a medical emergency.”
If you are unsure of your school’s policy, simply check with your school, or the district website, where you will find a copy of the handbook available. Parents who follow the school’s handbook policy for cell phones set a good example for their student, teaching them to be responsible and follow the rules. When a parent breaks the rules of the school, they can likely expect their students to do the same.