Cell Phone Policy an adjustment for students

Holden Chandler, Staff Writer

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 The policy of cell phone usage at Canton Academy is an objective policy because it is created to assist in decision making and can be objectively tested.  A rule to abide by or break and suffer the consequences of breaking that rule. The cell phone policy at CA only effects students, but there was absolutely no student input when the policy was created.  

At Canton Academy, the policies are not created by just one person. According to Elaine Pounds in Student Services, “all decisions on that particular aspect are talked about and discussed with the Administration and they make the recommendation to the Board.

“So, both parties are involved and approve of the final decision of how they are going to, you know, state it so that it’s clear for parents and students. The head of the administration is Ron Jurney and the board members are also a part of the administration. With that said, the students have no input whatsoever in the creating the policies to work around what is actually required of them at school.”

Pounds added “I was not a part of the decision making, I just helped in getting it written clearly for the handbook.

The policy for cell phone usage at CA appears to be extremely straightforward.  According to the written policy, “No visible cell phones, iPods, tablets, earbuds, Apple phones or any other electronic signaling device on campus during school hours 7:30-3:07. Cell phones are not to be used in any school areas. Earbuds may be used with school issued Chrombooks at teacher discretion.”

Policies are by nature to be clear and concise. They should leave no doubt what the rules are and the consequences for breaking those rules. When reading the above policy it is pretty clear that there should be NO cell phones used in any school areas between 7:30 a.m. and 3:07 pm. This, however, is not necessarily enforced.  Cell phones are used for academic reasons such as for Journalism to record interviews. They are also used with permission from the office staff to contact the student’s parents. So to be clear, the policy is not clear. It only appears to be clear. The students have to abide by a policy unless it is changed at the discretion of the teacher.

What if another roaming teacher does not know that your teacher has made an exception to that rule?  Does the disciplinary action consequence remain intact and enforced? According to the CA Handbook “If a student has his/ her cell phone taken up by a teacher the following disciplinary actions will take place:• 1st Offense – Taken up by teacher and given to the Director of Student Services. The student may receive their phone at the end of the school day and given the disciplinary warning.• 2nd Offense – $25.00 fine. A $25.00 fine must be paid to the front office for return of the phone and a disciplinary infraction will be marked on the student’s record. • 3rd Offense -$50.00 fine. Parent must come to the school to pay the fine, sign disciplinary notice and pick up the child’s phone.”

The cell phone policy wasn’t always this straightforward. According to Michelle Carter, Student Counselor at CA, “the policy was actually changed by administration.and the reason being because people were not following the rules. Carter added “there were too many people taking videos of other people who were not aware they were taking them. Too much texting, you know bullying type of stuff going on at lunch and a bunch of things like that.”

Pounds added “I do believe there was a lot of lax in the way we were doing it.  Students were using them in class and um in the hallways, just a whole lot of distractions you know. In the lunch room became a place of social rather than focusing on lunch.”

In looking at reasons to have access to cell phones at school, there are several reasons. This very article for one. In researching this information for this article, my Journalism teacher requires recording of the interviews. The only recording device accessible is a cell phone.  The only time the interviewees are available is during school hours.

According to Carter, “cell phones have no purpose academically.” There is at times though when cell phones are used for class projects which blatantly goes against school policy. There is nothing at all written in the policy about how these situations are handled. Therefore, the policy is not clear and concise and cannot be objectively measured.

It is common sense that cell phones should not be allowed in the classroom because of the expanded opportunity for cheating. According to Carter, “if you can’t have your phone out, you can’t use it. Does that make sense? So that will help that a lot. If you have it out it’s over. It does prevent a lot of the cheating as far as that is concerned.”

However, Carter added “if people are going to cheat, they are going to cheat.  They will just go back to the old school way of cheating. The phone policy doesn’t prevent cheating, it just prevents that avenue.” 

As a student myself, I am interested in knowing what route we could take to get the cell phone policy changed. By over hearing my fellow students in general conversation, they feel the same way. According to Pounds “Well I think your student council. I just guess this would be the place you would go and submit your request and policy thoughts on change. Then your student council would have to decide whether or not they agree with that and then present it to the administration.”  My journalism teacher would like for a member of the student council to be interviewed, but due to their availability during school hours only, recording of their interview would not be possible. Point proven. High school is hard enough without causing more tidal waves in the ocean of administration.