Wallingford BOE votes against allowing cell phone use between classes

Wallingford BOE votes against allowing cell phone use between classes

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WALLINGFORD — The Board of Education voted against a proposal to allow high school students to use cell phones and other devices in between classes.

In a 6-to-3 consensus vote Monday night, the school board decided against revisiting that aspect of a new overall policy on electronic devices.

The policy for high school students prohibits the use of digital devices such as cell phones, smartwatches, iPods, iPads, video recording devices, laptops and tablet computers during school hours, except for lunch. The board conducted a second reading of the regulation Monday. The third and final reading is slated for the end of the month.

The current version includes a revised regulation that reads: “Student devices may be turned on and operated before/after the instructional school day and during lunch or in an emergency situation that involves imminent physical danger.”

Board Member Erin Corso was not present at a recent meeting in which members voted to approve the removal of the term “during passing times” from the policy. Corso proposed adding the language back into the regulation.

“I would like to see what the board’s thoughts are to reconsider the policy to include, at the very least, to add the hallway piece back into the policy,” Corso said.

Corso said the regulation could negatively impact students who use electronic devices under the Individualized Education Program.

Board members discussed the benefits and challenges of adding the language back into the regulation. Several board members expressed concerns over being able to enforce the “passing times” regulation with high school students.

“I think that we’ve been on record discussing the logistics of this and that it's an unenforceable policy,” Corso said.

Board member Patrick Reynolds said in his experience as an educator the use of devices during passing time is a safety concern because students don’t look where they're going. There may be challenges in enforcing the policy initially, but Reynolds said he believes that students will eventually comply.

“When a student leaves a classroom, their main objective is to get to their next class,” Reynolds said. “I think allowing students cell phones will delay their arrival.” 

Superintendent of Schools Salvatore Menzo said that enforcing the policy in high schools will be a challenge and that there is no denying that electronic devices have been a problem in schools, but that the policy is not a black and white issue.

Calling it a “messy scenario,” Menzo said that either way, there would be challenges.

Twitter: @JenieceRoman