Students Carrying Cell Phones and Pagers May Soon Change

Cell phones and pagers may soon be treated just like notebooks and pencils in school campuses across Alabama.

Local education officials say it's about time that the outdated law mandating that any student caught in possession of an electronic communication device be suspended.

Dothan City Schools Superintendent Dr. Sam Nichols said, "For several years we've wanted that flexibility in our school system, for our board to be able to create a policy that was right for Dothan City Schools.”

“I'm glad they passed the legislation, we've been lobbying for it very hard for the past 6 to seven months,” said Dr. Steve Stokes, Dothan City School Board.

The new law states that each local board of education may adopt a local policy that pertains to pocket pagers, cellular telephones, and other electronic devices.

Education officials in Houston County say their number one concern with cell phones, is that students don't disrupt classroom activities.

However, they also understand that many parents want their children to carry a cell phone in case of an emergency.

"Cell phones now are a way of life, and we need to take that into account and develop a policy that can accommodate our parents and students more than we have with the old policy,” said Dr. Nichols

And to make that kind of policy that is fair for most people, officials say they plan to allow students to carry cell phones and pagers on school grounds, as long as they're not used during school hours.

Houston County Schools Superintendent Tim Pitchford said, "We're probably leaning toward making the use of cell phones on school campus during school hours; maybe make that a violation, but not possession."

School officials here in Houston County say the plan to work together with school boards across the wiregrass to try and adopt similar rules.

Senator Harriane Smith, of Slocomb, sponsored the bill in the Alabama senate. It will take effect July 1 of this year.