Cell phones to be allowed in schools

FLINT TWP. — Before school even starts, Carman-Ainsworth High School students have passed a major test.

A pilot program begun at the high school last term tested student responsibility to obey a policy that allowed restricted use of cell phones and other electronic devices during the school day.

Prior to that, cellphone use was banned at school. When implementing the more lenient pilot policy, school administrators said its continuation would depend on how well students behaved. Apparently they passed.

The school board held a first reading at its July 31 meeting to implement a policy allowing student cellphone use at the high school, with some restrictions.

Those restrictions prohibit use in bathrooms, locker rooms, school offices and in classrooms during instructional time except with permission from the teacher or principal.

The new policy also will forbid using cell phones and other devices to take photos or videos of other students or staff members or using them to communicate or transmit test information.

The new policy comes up for second reading and adoption at the board’s Aug. 21 meeting.

Details of the new cellphone policy will be explained in the Student Code of Conduct and vary according to grade level. Elementary and middle school students are allowed to have cell phones but still under a ban for the devices being “seen, heard or used during the school day,” except with permission.

The policy also applies to electronic communication devices and electronic storage devices.

Students will be allowed to use cell phones on the school bus as long as it is not distracting to others.

The policy includes provisions that cell phones and other devices are subject to search and possibly confiscation if there is reasonable suspicion of violations. Cellphone privileges may be revoked for students caught abusing the policy.

Students are responsible for safekeeping their devices. School officials disclaim all responsibility for the loss, theft or damage such devices, the policy states.

Superintendent Steve Tunnicliff said the new policy moves CA rules into the 21st century. A schoolwide cellphone and pager ban dates back to a state law passed under former Gov. Jennifer Granholm that no longer stands.

Students using cell phones often have good purposes, Tunnicliff said. The new policy limits use but also is a more realistic outlook for student using cell phones and other electronic devices in school, he said.

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