As students transition into back to school mode, one tool that may feel like an appendage to some will have to be left behind — the cell phone.
In the Fairfield County School District a student’s possession of a cell phone while in school constitutes a level one disciplinary infraction.
If a level one infraction is committed, the student is referred to administration, receives after school detention and has the device confiscated.
The student also loses technology privileges for 30 days.
Parents are contacted and a formal behavior contract must be signed making sure all are aware of the violation and corrective action it necessitates.
While controversial to some, district officials defend the policy as a way to help ensure students have a productive learning environment.
“The cell phone policy is in the code of conduct as a way to defray students from using a cell phone in a disruptive manner in class. Issues we have seen potentially are where children are text messaging or using electronic communication to cheat on tests,” said Deputy Superintendent for Academics Dr. Claudia Edwards. Hence the policy.
A student’s first infraction results in the phone being confiscated for 30 days.
While that consequence is controversial with some parents, it is an area the district is firm about.
The goal is to produce a productive, safe learning environment for all students.
Last spring a camera phone was used in a sexual assault incident at the high school, further evidence of the reason why this policy is in place.
“The code of conduct is the governing document that supports board policies,” Edwards said.
This year’s code of conduct is being reviewed at present, and she believes the board will approve it on Aug. 21.
The timetable was established so parents could give feedback to any policy changes and so the school district could confer with its attorneys to make sure the conduct code was within the limits of the South Carolina Code of Laws as well.
School policy is for emergency messages to be delivered immediately to students and for messages from parents to be sent to a student via his or her teacher at a time that is not disruptive to class instruction.
According to the code of conduct, no student may possess a beeper while on school property or while attending a school sponsored event or school related activity on or off of school property.
An exception can be made for a student with a legitimate medical condition or if a student is over 18 and a member of a volunteer fire or EMS organization.
Confiscated paging devices are forfeited to the school district.
If a student does bring a personal communication device to school, it must be left with the principal or an official the principal designates to keep electronic devices secure and in a controlled environment.