AKRON Ohio (WJW) – Akron Public Schools board members are working on revising the district’s cell phone policy, concerned that cell phones are contributing to multiple problems within the schools.
The district already has a policy that states cell phones ‘must be powered completely off and stored out of sight’ during school.
It includes discipline which ‘will be imposed on an escalating scale ranging from a warning to expulsion.’
But board members say they hear from teachers who struggle daily with enforcement.
“Through my hundreds and probably thousands of hours of volunteer service in the buildings I’ve witnessed and seen teachers with successful ways of dealing with the cell phone in their classrooms, so for those of you who may be listening I’m going to say send us those ideas. I’m going to also say that I would challenge anybody in this room to say that we are not all addicted to cell phones,” said Board Vice President Diana Autry.
“We have come to the point where this board, this organization this team has got to begin to move the ball forward on how we address it because it’s been an issue for a while,” said Board President Derrick Hall.
“We have got to have a conversation about that. I think what gets lost in translation is the urgency of what happens in our buildings on a day-to-day basis,” Hall added, urging the board’s policy committee to have something ready in time for the next full board meeting in mid-February.
That committee was to meet Monday night.
The board is also inviting emails and participation from parents, teachers and administrators.
“We can develop any policy that we want to develop but if it’s not followed, if it’s not enforced it’s no good if people aren’t following it,” said Bruce Alexander.
Violence inside school buildings was a major concern of teachers during the recent contract negotiations.
As FOX 8 has reported, cell phones have been used to record and share videos of fights inside schools.
“It’s the climate that we are in. If they don’t respect their parents in some cases, you think they are going to respect the teacher that asks for a phone?” said Carla Jackson.
“I’ve seen the meekest and mildest of children turn into the incredible hulk if you try to take that phone, and so we have to be prepared, ” said Autry.
The district sent a delegation to Dayton where schools ask students to place their cell phones in a pouch that is magnetically locked at the beginning of the school day.
The pouch can then be unlocked at the end of the day.
“I think there are tools that we can use to help make the policy more enforceable right, so it’s not just as simple as asking a teacher or saying to a teacher, ‘Hey do your job, enforce the policy, take the phone from the kid,’ that’s just, I think we all know that’s not realistic,” said Hall.
Akron School Superintendent Christine Fowler-Mack told the board that she has ‘hope’ everyone can arrive at a policy that works.
“I think there’s hope. We have seen it in other places where we pull together and sent collective clear messages.”