Major presents communications policy for review

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, May 16, 2006

A new policy being considered by the Shelby County School Board would allow students to carry cellular phones and other electronic communications devices but would not allow their use during school hours or on school buses.

Deputy Superintendent John Wright said the phones could be used by the students before and after school hours.

He stressed that the phones may not be used or seen during school times unless a principal made the determination of necessity under in an extreme circumstance.

Previously, Wright said, such devices were prohibited on school property and would be taken up by the principals and returned to parents.

Superintendent Evan Major presented a draft for a new use of personal communication devices policy at last Thursday&8217;s board meeting.

The draft is in keeping with House Bill 34, according to Major, which was passed by the state Legislature to become effective on July 1, 2006.

&8220;There has go to be control of cell phones,&8221; Major said.

He said the law has changed from one that prohibited use of cell phones to one that gives school boards the opportunity to control them and other electronic devices.

&8220;I&8217;m happy the law has been passed. It gives us authority to control it.&8221;

According to the House Bill 34, &8220;Each local board of education may adopt a local policy that pertains to pocket pagers, cellular telephones and other electronic communication devices.&8221;

Also, &8220;Any pupil found in violation of this section shall be subject to suspension by the board of education.&8221;

Under the draft policy presented by Major, &8220;It is the policy of the Shelby County Board of Education that the visible possession and/or use of personal electronic communication devices, including but not limited to cellular telephones, text messaging, beepers, walkie-talkies, etc., be prohibited for personal use at any time during the instructional day for all students.

&8220;In addition, no communication devices shall be permitted while being transported by a Shelby County school bus.&8221;

The policy states the board is not responsible for theft, loss or damage of phones or other personal communication devices.

The resolution will come up for a vote at a later date, Major said