Hillsborough schools consider stricter cell phone policy

06/06/08 Seán Kinane and Kamala Chetty
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This morning the Hillsborough County School Board held a workshop with principals from seven schools regarding student discipline issues, including the use of cell phones at school.

The School Board got input from two elementary, two middle and three high school principals on what they feel the district’s mobile phone policy should be.

Assistant Superintendent for Administration Lewis Brinson will give their recommendations to the superintendent who will present them to the Board during a later meeting.

If the policy is adopted, phones and all other electronic devices would be confiscated if they are seen by school administrators or teachers.

Brenda Nolte is the principal at Burns Middle School. Nolte said cell phone usage has not been an issue at her school since it implemented a no-backpack policy.

School Board member Candy Olsen supports the stricter new policy being proposed.

The Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test scores of some students were invalidated this year because they had access to mobile phones. But that’s not the only reason to prohibit electronic devices in class, Olsen said.

It was not determined how the new policy would be applied to teachers and other school staff. They would be expected to set a good example for students, but would likely not face an all-out ban on mobile phones in school.

Yvonne Lyons, executive director of the Hillsborough Classroom Teachers Association, said teachers will have to be at the table before any decisions are made. The exact policy details still need to be worked out for students as well, Candy Olsen said.

Brinson said students could still bring mobile phones to school under the proposed policy, but they could only be used before and after school.

The next School Board meeting will be Tuesday June 10 at 3 p.m. at 901 East Kennedy Blvd in downtown Tampa, but the Board will probably not address the mobile phone policy until July.

Photo by Seán Kinane/WMNF

Hillsborough County School Board

Hillsborough County Public Schools

Hillsborough Classroom Teachers Association

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