Dothan City School Board to vote on policy prohibiting cell phone use

(WTVY News 4)
Published: Jul. 11, 2019 at 10:49 PM CDT
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The Dothan City School Board is nearing a decision on the personal cell phone policy.

At a work session Thursday afternoon, they looked through a draft that would change how students are allowed to use phones in school.

Right now, students are allowed to use their phones during non-instructional times, between classes, on the bus and during lunch.

If this code passes, cell phone use would be absolutely prohibited on campus at all times

That's what a cell phone policy committee has come up with, and now it's in the board's hands.

In an increasingly digital age, cell phones have become an integral part of our daily lives.

According to the Pew Research Center, 94% of people say they carry their cell phones frequently, while 82% of say they rarely ever turn their phones off.

At Dothan City Schools, those percentages will have to drop to zero, or else there will be consequences.

That is, if the school board passes a new personal communication device policy.

"Our concern with it is how it is being used on school campuses,” said DCS Director of Safety, Security and Attendance Scott Faulk. “We addressed cyber-bullying. We addressed the instigation of fighting, using cell phones and recording fights, cheating on tests, those types of things."

A group of parents, teachers, students and school administrators was tasked with reviewing the current cell phone policy.

It allows cell phone use during non-instructional times.

The committee researched the issues and put out a survey which nearly 700 parents responded to.

On the survey, nearly 70% of parents said the current policy needed stronger consequences, but only 40% said there should be consequences for any and all cell phone use, even during non-instructional times.

"What we're finding is that a lot of the discipline issues we're having to deal with, and that ultimately parents are having to deal with, pretty much comes from the use of that phone, and also, you're not paying attention to what's going on in the classroom,” said Superintendent Dr. Phyllis Edwards.

Faulk presented the board with a draft for the new policy, which would prohibit cell phone use on campus at every grade level, with some pretty steep consequences.

On the first violation, the device would be taken for two school days. The second would be two weeks and a $25 fine. The third violation would be 45 days.

Any student refusing to surrender a phone would be sent to P.A.S.S. Academy.

"We agree with the consequences,” said Faulk. “We feel it is fair."

The policy needs to be reviewed by the board attorney, and then it is scheduled to go before the school board for a vote on Monday.

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