Wallingford BOE plans to strengthen student cell phone policy

Wallingford BOE plans to strengthen student cell phone policy

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WALLINGFORD — The Board of Education on Monday night discussed an expanded policy on student use of electronic devices, including cell phones.

The board last revised the electronic devices policy in 2003. The section on pagers is twice as long as the section on cell phones.

Under the proposed new policy, students may have and use electronic devices at school, but where and when are more clearly defined, and there are different rules for elementary, middle and high school students.

“The use of electronic communication devices and other such technology at school is considered a privilege, not a right,” the proposal states. The policy covers cell phones, smart watches, video recording devices, personal digital assistants, iPods, iPads and laptop and tablet computers.

Superintendent  of Schools Salvatore Menzo said Monday that the policy is hard to enforce.

"There's no way we can expect 100 percent fidelity in this policy," he said, but it's an opportunity “to express our philosophical belief.”

"It's a burden I don't believe is realistic," he said. “We want to make sure we’re using our administrators’ time on instruction.”

The board is slated to discuss the policy again at its regular meeting on June 17 and possibly a third time its Aug. 26 meeting.

Varies by grade level

Although elementary school students may possess cell phones and other devices at school and use them before school and on the bus, they must be kept turned off “throughout the instructional school day, arrival through dismissal,” the proposal states, and “stored in a non-visible secure location.”

Elementary school students are required to use headphones and not share the devices with others.

Middle and high school students also are allowed to use devices before and after the school day. High school students may use devices during lunch and passing periods, “or in an emergency situation that involves imminent physical danger,” the policy states.

At all other times, student devices must be kept turned off and out of sight, unless a staff member grants permission, use of the device is part of the student’s Individualized Education Program or in an emergency situation.

The draft policy originally said middle school students could use devices during lunch and passing periods, but the board decided Monday to exclude middle schoolers from that access.

Safe learning environment

Even though students can use cell phones and other devices, it’s a conditional use. Students may not use devices to disrupt the school day, violate the privacy of others or share sexually explicit materials.

School staff may take action “to ensure a safe and appropriate learning environment is maintained,” the policy states.

The policy also states that any communication between parent and child should still go through school personnel in the main office.

“Parents should not expect to communicate directly with their children using their devise during designated school time,” the policy states.

The policy includes a disclaimer that the school district is not responsible for lost, stolen or damaged devices, even if the device is confiscated by a staff member. 

Twitter: @LCTakores

Read the policy.

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