cell phone jammer- oh dear, in trouble?

Discussion in 'Debate & Marathon Threads Archive' started by Ron6103, May 15, 2010.

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  1. Ron6103

    Ron6103 Habitué

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    I bought a cell phone signal jammer a few days ago to cut down on the truly rampant texting and phone use in my classroom. I was fairly pleased with the results, but a number of teachers were quite literally furious because it extended further than I had anticipated (truly not on purpose, but a few neighboring rooms also lost service).

    That said, this has quickly blown up. Apparently, unknown to me (I bought it online with no trouble), these are illegal. The principal came down and confiscated the device. Apparently, there can be upwards of an 11,000 dollar fine for their use from the FCC. This all occurred on Friday, and I was told we'll need to wait and see, and prepare for some potentially serious damage control.

    Has anyone experienced anything similar? What sort of trouble am I looking at here? Could my job be in trouble (I'm not tenured)?. I spoke with my union rep, but she had no idea.... she never dealt with this before. Thoughts?
     
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  3. PCdiva

    PCdiva Connoisseur

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    I think you did the right thing! No one in the school has any business using their phone during the day...if something is important, there is a phone in the office.

    I have heard of schools using this but not an individual teacher, so I dont think there should be a problem.

    How much was this??? and how did they know it was you?
     
  4. Tigers

    Tigers Habitué

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    I have never dealt with anything like this either, but I would guess that all of the answers to your question are the same: It depends.

    depending on how the admin view you as an employee, depending on how much the other people/ community is reacting, depending on how the admin. feels about jamming cell phones in general.

    I imagine that this falls in a gray area that could be spun a number of different ways. The worst view would "teacher was engaged in illegal activity on school grounds." Hopefully, your choice will be viewed in an understanding light - I am sure many teachers secretly would love to have cell phone jammers.

    good luck, let us know what happens.
     
  5. PCdiva

    PCdiva Connoisseur

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  6. mmswm

    mmswm Moderator

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    Of course, this begs the question....

    How did the other teachers know you'd jammed the signals? Aren't they supposed to be working?
     
  7. Cerek

    Cerek Aficionado

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    My thoughts exactly. :)
     
  8. PCdiva

    PCdiva Connoisseur

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    I'm sure if he told the students, that news would spread like wild fire through a high school.
     
  9. Sarge

    Sarge Enthusiast

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    I use my cell phone all the time in my classroom. My classroom phone does not call out to other area codes. Many parent contact numbers are outside the area code. If I need to call those parents, I need my cell phone.

    If the teacher next door to me was using a jammer to prevent their students from texting, and it prevented me from calling the parent of a disruptive student, I'd be pretty annoyed.

    Jamming devices are illegal for a reason.
     
  10. Brendan

    Brendan Fanatic

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    I understand your reasons for getting it, but I can understand why the other teachers are pissed. Next time you do anything like this PLEASE check with your boss.
     
  11. bros

    bros Phenom

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    According to Wikipedia:
    United States: illegal to operate, manufacture, import, or offer for sale, including advertising
     
  12. mmswm

    mmswm Moderator

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    Sarge, I didn't say whether or not I agreed with the use of the devise, I just said it begged the question.

    For the record, I'm pretty strongly against cell phone jammers in any capacity.
     
  13. MissScrimmage

    MissScrimmage Aficionado

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    I had no idea these devices existed.

    While it has brought up some interesting food for thought, it does seem like something that should have been run by an administrator. Your intentions seem right, though, so hopefully that will help your legal case.
     
  14. mrachelle87

    mrachelle87 Fanatic

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    I don't have an intercom in my room. I use my phone to call the office several times a day and the office calls my cell phone to give me messages. I would be pissed if you scrambled my signal. Plus do they scramble wireless internet? We have several rooms that don't have wires, they are wireless.
     
  15. JustMe

    JustMe Virtuoso

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    I would not be "pissed" if you caused me to lose my cell phone signal even though I, too, use it for legitimate purposes throughout the school day...because you didn't intend to disrupt my service. I think it would be an overreaction on my part to be angry with you. You had good intentions and didn't fully realize the consquences of your actions--that it would disrupt my service and that it was illegal. After this is sorted through, perhaps your administration can focus on how to reduce texting in class.

    Best wishes.
     
  16. **Mrs.A**

    **Mrs.A** Comrade

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    :thumb: :clap:
     
  17. mrachelle87

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    I stand by my answer. These things have been in the news -- both national and local--several times in the past few months. You should never bring anything into you classroom that you haven't spent time thinking about how it effects students and others. In this day of technology, you need to use your head. Plus as a parent, I would not like you jamming my son's phone. I never text or call him during school. But my mother has had to call him because of medical emergency and his number was the only one she could remember. He explained to his teacher that his phone was vibrating and it was his grandmother who was a diabetic and who has diabetic coma like episodes. The teacher sent him to the office to call her back. When he couldn't get her, he called his father who went to check on her. He was willing to take the punishment to make sure his grandmother was safe. That was his call, not a teacher who can't control her class.
     
  18. kcjo13

    kcjo13 Phenom

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    Much cheaper, safer, legal, low tech version:

    Shoe box placed by the door. When students come in, place phone in box. Ask your students for 50 minutes of uninterrrupted class time, in exchange for something they want (3 minutes of time with the phone, or something of the like). If it rings, vibrates, or shimmies in any way, it can be checked by you quickly and without much interruption.

    I know cell phone usage is a HUGE problem. It is in my school too. But I also believe if you (not you, Ron, but YOU in general) treat students with honesty and respect, eventually they will come around. Let them know you have a job to do, and would appreciate the courtesy. Of course there will be interrruptions now and then, but perhaps less distracting than, say, potentially losing a job over a quickly made decision.
     
  19. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    I think you overstepped your boundaries, big time. If you thought it was a good idea, you should have suggested it to administration. Then you would have found out that it was illegal.

    And what other teachers were doing with a cell phone really doesn't matter. It's entirely possible that they had a free period, and were calling home to check on a sick child.

    I think that any time someone has a magnificently simple answer to a huge problem, it's a good idea to ask: "If it's really this easy, why isn't it already being done?" I think it would save quite a few headaches.

    That said, I don't think it is, or should be, the end of the world. Short of an intruder, almost any other classroom emergency could be handled by sending a kid to the office or the nurse. Teachers who had planned to somehow use the phone as part of a lesson should be flexible enough to work around it.
     
  20. teach2read10

    teach2read10 Companion

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    Interesting

    What a great invention! I can see the problem with people not being able to make emergency calls, but a part of me still thinks you did the right thing in trying to get students to focus on school.
     
  21. maya5250

    maya5250 Comrade

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    I agree with Aliceacc and other posters with similar statements.

    Ron, I hope things work out for you and your school.


    Legal issues behind cell phone jamming:
    http://electronics.howstuffworks.com/cell-phone-jammer5.htm

    It does cut out texting and phone usage in the classroom but it's illegal (FCC fine (up to $11,000)). I don't see the U.S. passing any laws like France (utilize cell phone jamming in concerts, museums, etc) anytime soon.
     
  22. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    For what it's worth, I've never ever heard of them before.

    I've also never called the office from my classroom. We don't have intercoms or anything; I just have never needed the help of the office during the school day. I can't imagine the emergency, beyond something medical, that would require it. So I don't really think this was all that big a deal.
     
  23. PCdiva

    PCdiva Connoisseur

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    Many of these are advertised as just spanning 30 ft...it is entirely possible that Ron thought it wouldnt go beyond his classroom, therefore not needing to clear it with administration.

    I watch the news daily and have never seen this brought up.

    While collecting phones in a shoe box at the beginning of the period sounds like a great idea, I wouldnt want the liability of being responsible for 30 phones at $200 each.
     
  24. Cerek

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    Good point, PCdiva. As Alice said, any answer that seems so simple should be looked at closely to determine why it hasn't been used before. You have to figure out what problems could come from using this solution.

    As for those who need cell phones to call the office or for kids to receive emergency calls, I think we can all agree these situations are the exceptions to the rule. MOST kids are NOT using their cell phones to make or receive emergency calls.
     
  25. KinderCowgirl

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    I've heard of churches using them so services or weddings are not interrupted-but never heard of them being used in a classroom.

    Because this is the first time your admin has had to deal with it, I would think the consquences would be lighter-probably nothing in a handbook to explain how to deal with it.

    My phone isn't out during the school day, but I do check it at lunch time and during planning-especially if I'm expecting a call.

    It's not like anyone was hurt or anything. My first thought though was of all those 911 calls that came from cell phones during school shootings and such. I think you're really lucky that there wasn't an emergency where people couldn't get a signal to get help.
     
  26. KLSSwimmer

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    I honestly have to say that I have never heard of a cell phone jammer. Interesting discussion
     
  27. KLSSwimmer

    KLSSwimmer Habitué

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    Sorry, I hit submit too quickly. Ron, even though I don't agree with your decision to use the cell phone jammer, I do think that it was an innocent mistake (in that you didn't know you were doing something illegal). I hope that everything turns out okay for you.
     
  28. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Ron-
    Whether you knew such devices were illegal or not, your decision to jam all cell phones in your room (and nearby rooms as a consequence) was careless and thoughtless. There are creative ways to solve the problems we encounter (texting during class) and it's best to reach out to your colleagues/administration when dealing with such a ubiquitous issue.
    Did you ever consider that having cell phones is not only a social problem for you but is also a godsend in an emergency? My son's hs had a bomb scare one day, the kids had to evacuate the building for HOURS and the kids were SCARED and wanted to call their families. I use my cell phone for communication with the office when I take my class outside or when I'm on afterschool safety duty. Also consider that your 'jammer' could have potentially blocked police communication devices had officers been in the building. Your colleagues may have their phones on to be on alert for their own family emergencies...
    Your union can not protect you from your own thoughtlessness. You'll be fortunate if you emerge from this unscathed. Learn from this. Good luck to you.
     
  29. Momzoid

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    I think that was a poor choice too with jaming cell phones. Until about a week ago my cell phone was locked up. But after a family emergency it was out and still will be out for the rest of the school year. Until you NEED to be contacted by your family you have no idea how cell phones are needed by students or teachers. And as far as using the office phone goes my mother, who had to contact my sister who is a teacher, was given the run around by the school secretary. My mother who NEVER calls the school to speak to my sister was harrassed by the secretary. The school should have in place procedures for cell phone use. The teacher should rely on those for classroom managment of cell phones.:(
     
  30. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    As an aside, I hope that mom now has a medic alert bracelet:
    http://philips.lifelinesystems.com/landing/?campaign=121&gclid=CIrAhpLy1qECFQuB5QodqSM7LQ
     
  31. mrachelle87

    mrachelle87 Fanatic

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    I teach 6 year olds. They don't have cell phones. My room is by itself in an isolated part of the building. It was never designed to hold a class, but with our building being destroyed we were placed there for a year. I use my phone two or three times a day. Not for discipline, but for early checkout, lost children, attendance, and other issues--bloody noses, wetting in pants, etc.

    My husband's classroom is a mile from the building. It is off campus. When he is in the barn or shop, he uses his phone for emergencies.

    We also take our phones out on recess. I would hate to think that if a child was seriously injured and someone had jammed the lines, I couldn't use the phone.

    But the bottom line is that before anyone brings any gadget into the school, they should research, debate, and understand how it impacts others.

    A mistake was made. Is it life threatening? Not this time. Apologize and use it as a learning experience. Have a plan for Monday. Be ready for the consequences, but have a plan to show that you are willing to re-evaluate the situation. I would also send an apology to your administration ASAP. Remorse goes a long way.
     
  32. mrachelle87

    mrachelle87 Fanatic

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  33. Ron6103

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    I appreciate the input. I'm certainly not going to argue in an attempt to make this seem like a good choice, as it clearly wasn't.

    That said, many of the previous suggestions would not have been an option here in my building. Cell phones are not permitted to be even carried by our students during the day (not even if they're off). Thus, if one even so much as falls out of a pocket, we have to confiscate it. If a student has to call a parent (or the other way around) they must do it through the office. Several students were caught with texts or calls from parents, and their phones were taken, and they were given detentions as well. And so I wouldn't have been able to ask them to place them in a box, or anything like that. If emergencies occur, we're to use landlines (one in each room). Even in lockdowns, the students cannot use anything... a student was almost expelled for pulling out a phone during a lockdown to text his mother, because the local police feared that phones could be used to detonate explosive devices. We've been instructed to even turn off our own (faculty) cell phones during locksdowns.

    Yet all this aside, countless kids kept using them, and I wasn't able to always catch it directly. A few even snapped photos of tests. So I was at my wits end with the phones, and in that mindset, made this decision.

    So I suppose, my thoughts when I did this were that with our cell phone policy as strict as it was, I'd be okay. Obviously, I was wrong. I spoke with my principal on the phone about it this morning, and I'll be apologizing to the impacted teachers. Outside of that, he doesn't think it should go further, but ended the conversation with "but we'll see what happens, you never know how these things can do sometimes"....

    Oh well. Live and learn.
     
  34. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Maybe the link was wrong. I'm thinking of the ones from the infamous "I've fallen and I can't get up" commercials- the ones that put you into instant communication with a switchboard that can summon help.

    I'm just thinking that, if she had been unable to remember your son's number, or if he was on a soccer field during a gym class or taking a test, he might not have had access to his phone. Enabling mom to contact someone on duty to answer such calls might make a big difference.
     
  35. Pisces_Fish

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    I'm wondering how everyone found out it was yours. Did you simply admit to it because you didn't know it was illegal and didn't expect such outrage?

    I personally would never buy one, but I'm on your side on this one - you intended no harm, and I hope you don't get in hot water.
     
  36. Ron6103

    Ron6103 Habitué

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    They found out it was mine because I mentioned it to teachers in my hallway. As you said, I didn't know it was illegal, and so wasn't really trying to hide it. I even asked the neighboring teacher because I was curious if it impacted his room. It hit about half of his room, but he was actually thrilled about it. So I openly admitted it having it, as I didn't realize it was an issue.
     
  37. bros

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    When my school had one of many threats of a shooting from mentally unstable students, the teachers REFUSED to let us use our cell phones to call our parents, or else we would get an even stricter sentence than normal
     
  38. Muttling

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    There are a number of jamming devices on the market, some legal and some illegal.

    Cell phone jammers are illegal as the cell phone companies pay the FCC for use of their frequency spectrum and jamming it is considered theft of property.
     
  39. TiffanyL

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    I would be pretty darn angry and would feel like my rights as an adult had been violated. That being said, I think I would have calmed down as soon as I realized that you weren't aware that it would have reached into other rooms as well.

    As for your approach, I think this is the time of year when teachers begin to get desperate. They have been enforcing the rules all year and some kids just disregard them. Remember, however, that whenever we get to the point that you are engaging in a power struggle with them, we usually lose sight of where the true answer lies.
     
  40. newbie1234

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    I tried that at my school, but the legal department stopped me. The best solution I've found is to be alert and confiscate phones whenever possible. Cell phone use is a real distraction; I wish cell phone jammers were legal.
     
  41. Ima Teacher

    Ima Teacher Virtuoso

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    I do feel that you overstepped your boundaries by purchasing this device on your own without talking to administration first, and I can also see why nearby teachers would be upset as well.

    While I don't normally use my phone during class time, I do have a planning period that does not match everyone else in the building. I use my phone then. Also, at one point I had TWO sick parents (one with cancer, one with uncontrolled seizures), and I did keep my phone on, just in case, although I did have the school number and my cell as emergency contact information.

    My classroom phone doesn't call out like other phones in the building, so I have needed to use my cell a few times. I called tech support one day last week, with kids in the room, because we had an issue while we were working. I would have used my classroom phone, but it wouldn't work.

    Always check with administration before you do something that could impact others.
     
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