Dothan City Schools takes a look at personal cell phone use policy

(WTVY News 4)
Published: May. 17, 2019 at 6:34 PM CDT
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There will be plenty of changes coming this summer for Dothan City Schools. The next one looks like it will be the school system's "Code of Conduct."

Items in the 101-page code of conduct include dress code, punishment and attendance.

While there are minor changes to all of those, one concept may see a pretty significant change - the use of personal cell phones.

Spend time at a high school, and you are bound to see a student (or several) on their phones.

In an increasingly digital world, Dothan City Schools administrators wonder if the devices are becoming a major distraction.

"Cell phones are a hindrance in class rooms,” said Dothan City School Director of Safety, Security and Attendance, Scott Faulk. “They are keeping students from learning, that's number one. In some cases, cell phones are instigating tools when it comes to students fighting."

The current cell phone policy allows students to have phones with them, and use them during "non-instructional times" like class changes, lunch and on the bus.

Faulk has put together a committee of parents to review that policy and see if it needs updating.

If they make changes, it will go to a policy committee with the board attorney, before going to the school board for final approval.

"Cell phones being used in drills, safety drills, has been our concern as well," said Faulk.

He says students spend more time recording an event, like a fight, instead of responding to a teacher or school resource officer's commands, which puts them in a compromising position.

He and the committee are looking at a wide range of options for the policy, including anywhere from not allowing phones on campus at all to adding an administrative charge for getting a confiscated cell phone back.

"I don't know if I'd want my daughter being there without being able to get in touch with me any way possible,” said Dothan High School Parent Candace Edmondson. “It's just a safety issue with me."

"I feel like we should be able to use our phones during break and when we're available - not during school hours,” said Dothan High School Student Draper Facion.

The code of conduct, which includes the phone policy, will go before the board on Monday, but Faulk is asking them to table it until he gets more feedback from parents.

Parents can voice their opinions on the code of conduct at a public meeting at Dothan Preparatory Academy on June 4th. The meetings will be at 10am, 2pm and 5pm.

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