Cell Phone Use
Cell phones have become almost as common as books among students, particularly at the middle and high school levels. In response to the explosion of cell phones at school, districts across the country have established expectations concerning when and for what purposes students may use their phones while at school.
At the recommendation of the Washington State School Directors Association (the state organization that guides and supports school boards); the Entiat School District Board of Directors recently adopted as board policy additional guidelines for student cell phone use. The new policy addresses issues that have arisen in numerous schools around the state and nation as cell phones become more and more sophisticated.
The rules for student use of cell phones are pretty simple. Students are allowed to use their phones before and after school and during their lunch. They are not allowed to use their phones during class time or during the transition from one class to another. In response to incidents that have happened in other districts, students are explicitly prohibited from sending, sharing, viewing or possessing any material of a sexually explicit nature while at school, at school-sponsored events or on school buses.
The practice has always been to confiscate the phone of a student who does not abide by the expectations for cell phone use. The newly adopted policy also allows administrators search the contents of a cell phone if there is a reasonable suspicion that such a search will reveal a violation of school rules. Content or images that violate criminal laws will be forwarded to law enforcement.
The practical application of this policy is that a student who is asked to turn a phone over to an administrator must turn the phone over in operating condition (battery and memory card intact). District administrators have no desire or intention to search students’ phones. However, the ability to do so if need be is necessary to protect academic integrity, avoid disruption of the learning environment and protect the privacy rights of others. A copy of Board Policy 3245 Students and Telecommunication Devices and the accompanying administrative procedure 3245P is available at the school district office.