Taking cell phones...

Discussion in 'General Education' started by JustMe, Aug 6, 2008.

  1. JustMe

    JustMe Virtuoso

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    A somewhat local school district has implemented a new cell phone policy this year. Basically, if a staff person sees a phone out they take the phone and return it at the end of the day. If it happens again, the school keeps the phone for a week. If happens once more, the school keeps the phone for the entire semester, or it might have even been year. I HAVE NO PROBLEM WITH THIS AT ALL but I was wondering if you imagine this will turn into a huge issue because parents could argue the schools are taking a person's property, for which they are paying for...if the school has the phone the entire year and the owner can't cancel the contract, they could be paying significant bills for an item they don't have access to. Again, I don't think phones should be out in school (especially given picture and video capabilities and texting/cheating), and I say if you don't figure it out the first time then SO BE IT, but I wonder what others will think?
     
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  3. kyblue07

    kyblue07 Companion

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    Last year our policy was similar, but we did not keep the cell phones. After the third violation, parents were required to come in and pick the phone up and the student was not to bring the phone back for the remainder of the year. I don't know of any problems with this policy. I can see however, that there might be some upset parents if the school's policy is to keep the phone for a period of time. I don't see how they could do that because as you said, it's not the school's property.
     
  4. 3Sons

    3Sons Enthusiast

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    You're right, it's legally pretty shaky keeping it for any extended period of time. Schools have the authority to confiscate for the purposes of keeping order, NOT as a punitive measure. Schools have other means of punishment, deprivation of property without due process of law beyond what's required for order may well be illegal.

    Lone Grove High School in Oklahoma was sued by parents whose children's cell phones were confiscated for a week. I don't know how the case has gone, but I think this kind of a policy is asking for trouble.

    edit: as kyblue notes, schools CAN set conditions on the return of cell phones, such as requiring parents to come in.

    A truly sneaky district who wanted to keep the cell phones for an extended period but did not want to enact such a policy could even set conditions that might be difficult to meet, such as parents bringing in a copy of their cell phone contract and last bill between 4 and 4:30 in the afternoon to the district office (which they'd first need to find, and then photocopy -- I know if it were me it would be at least a week before this would get done).
     
  5. SouperTeach

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    I know of parents here who would be upset at the school if they did this. I also know of at least one school who charges a fine to pick up the child's cell phone.
     
  6. MsMaggs

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    I've heard of schools having policies like this, but it is usually that the school will keep the cell phone for the set amount of time OR until a parent comes in and picks up the phone. The idea is that usually a parent would be irritated to have to come into the office and pick up the cell phone and would make sure that their child didn't bring the phone back.
     
  7. LMath85

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    Our policy is the same. I see it - I take it. School rules apply to EVERYONE. A parent usually has to come up & get the phone, but often they let that slide & give it back to the kid at the end of the day.

    I've taken away plenty of cell phones. A rule is a rule.

    I have 3 favorite stories when it comes to taking away my students cell phones...

    1) a student was apparently texting her mom. Her mother defended her for using her cell phone in class. It was actually quite hilarious to listen to this parent who then went on to blame me for why her daughter was failing. I'm surprised she didn't tell me it was my fault the girl had her cell phone out.

    2) a student got up from class, walked out & answered the phone. she did later apologize though but her mom had to come up & get her phone.

    3) just last week a girl offered to give me money in exchange for her cell back & not giving it to my AP.

    I don't mind taking them away & honestly too bad on the parent if they complain. it clearly says it in the rules. i understand some kids have it for emergency purposes but hello.. texting during class?! answering your phone during class!? you are asking for it.
     
  8. Emma35

    Emma35 Connoisseur

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    I think it is a good policy. And if a parent is angry to bad!!! As long as they know he rules up front then I don't think they should have anything to complain about.

    It doesn't need to be on at all during the school day. What kind of emergency can come up during school hours? If a student gets sick then they can go to the office.

    I teach 1st grade and I had a little girl have a cell phone in her backpack. Her mom called!!! During class!!! Now first of all what does a first grader need a phone for??? And why is her mom calling during class???
     
  9. Jem

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    We had the take-away and parents pick up policy at the middle school I worked at briefly. Our kids were not very nice about. One girl was talking to her mom, and I told her she needed to give the phone to me. She did not hang up (which I hadn't noticed) when she handed it to me, and then she twisted my wrist and started yelling that I was stealing her phone, so her mom heard every word. Ooooh, that really hurt AND I had to deal with her mom. I had another mother call and chew me out for taking her son's cell phone because he had to walk through a rough neighborhood and that was how she knew he got home safe, but now the office had his phone.
     
  10. Emma35

    Emma35 Connoisseur

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    Why do parents think it is the teachers fault when the phone is taken away? How about putting the responsibility on the student. If the kid was following the rules then the phone wouldn't be taken away. Plain and simple!
     
  11. mmswm

    mmswm Moderator

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    :agreed:

    Why is it a problem to insist that people follow the rules and pay the consequences if they don't? In the case described by the OP, the student has had at least two chances to "get it right". If it were my kid he would be the one paying the bill for the phone he couldn't use. I'd think it would be a GREAT lesson for the kid. But, silly me, seems like personal responsibility has gone out of style.
     
  12. MissWull

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    The school district I would like to teach for started a new cell phone policy this school year.

    At the beginning of every day, the students put their phones into the "cell bin". The teachers stores them away in a locked cupboard all day and the students get the cell phones back before they go home.

    I guess a lot of students were texting and some parents' bills were in the hundreds of dollars from this. In my opinion that is the parent's problem, not the schools cell policy, but whatever. I don't mind the new rule and I think it works well so far (school has only been in session for 2 weeks).
     
  13. paperheart

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    Our policy is stricter. 1st time is given back at end of day, second time its given back at the end of the semester or year (I can't remember). No 3rd chance.

    The students know the consequence. I'm sure there have been a few ticked off parents but that's the way it goes.
     
  14. Sarge

    Sarge Enthusiast

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    All you have to do is allow that parents can pick up any confiscated property in person at any time.

    More often than not, the student will allow for the property to be kept by the school because they know they would get in trouble if their parents knew that they took the item to school and/or mangaged to get it taken away.
     
  15. SpecialPreskoo

    SpecialPreskoo Moderator

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    We recently changed our policy back to the way it was... no cell phones. Here is the rule from the handbook straight from our system's website.

     
  16. mmswm

    mmswm Moderator

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    I don't agree with not being able to have them at all. I suppose though it's become such a problem that some schools are opting for an "all or nothing" approach. There are times when a student might need a cell phone at school.

    One example: My sister went to a magnet school in downtown Miami, which is at least an hour away from where my parents live (longer if she took public transportation). She would frequently stay after school for several hours for rehersals and practice. She would then need to leave school, get to the train, take the train, then the bus to somewhere my parents could pick her up, as she couldn't drive to school (and probably wouldn't have even if she could). If she couldn't keep her phone stowed somewhere at school, she would not have been able to stay in contact with our parents after school and let them know when she was leaving. Also, since downtown Miami isn't always the safest place in the world, having the phone allowed my parents peace of mind knowing she could always call if something happened.

    Another example: My school went into lockdown one day after a shootout at a convience store two blocks away from the school. The perp was hiding in a house in the neighborhood and the police had the whole area shut down while they dealt with what was quickly becoming a hostage situation. The kids had to stay locked in the classrooms for several hours after school was supposed to have ended. They weren't allowed in the hallways, and with only a half a dozen landlines, and even fewer people in the office to man them, contacting all of the parents was turning into a nightmare. We were instructed to let the kids who had phones call their parents and let them know that they were all fine and safe, and we were just waiting for the police to tell us that it was safe to dismiss them. The students then passed the phones around and within about 30-45 minutes almost all of the students had been able to reassure their parents that they were safe. That lockdown lasted until well after the dinner hour, by the way.
     
  17. INteacher

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    At our school, it IS a matter of keeping order. The vast majority of the fights at our school started because of someone texting something to someone else, forwarding it to someone else and so on. Also, phones are used to tape the fights then forwarded to everyone else, and also used to take pictures of private parts in the locker room and sent to everyone else - so it really is a matter of keeping order to remove a cell phone.
     
  18. MathTeacher29

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    My school has the policy where we take cell phones, the first time the student gets it back at the end of the day, the second time a parent must come get it. I follow this policy. However I have run into the problem where other teachers do not, and at times my students can actually see students sitting in other classes talking on their phones from my classroom. This has led to complaints from students when I take their phones. Also, half the time when a phone beeps or rings its an actual parent calling the student! Its so frustrating.
     
  19. LMath85

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    The thing is - I don't know about around you but the parents don't get mad if their kids get in trouble for having their cell phone taken away! They make up all kinds of excuses for them!! The only thing that gets them irritated is that they actually have to come to the school to pick it up...cause possibly it might give the school an impression that *gasp* they might just care about their kid.

    ....sorry had to vent there for a second. I've had parents so angry about the kid having their cell phone taken away --- its sad that they don't show that kind of enthusiasm when it comes to their kids grades.
     
  20. MrsTeacher2Be

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    I had my first sub orientation a couple of weeks ago, and the ONLY rule they bothered to tell us about is the cell phone policy, which is that if we see one we are to take it up and the student's parent has to come pick it up after they have served THREE after school detentions. That's for the first offense. I believe the number of detentions goes up from there, so if a student is careless enough to get caught several times (which I'm sure happens) the school takes their phone for a pretty long time. If it were my child, I'd completely understand, but then again, I actually want my children to be responsible. Legally, I don't see how they can keep personal property, but I'm certainly not going to argue with it! I guess if the phone is taken for the rest of the year, the parents can (or I would) have my child pay (or work off in chores) the $200 to cancel the contract or we'd just change the plan to the cheapest one and my child would pay it every month.
     
  21. silverspoon65

    silverspoon65 Enthusiast

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    We have the same policy in my school. It's not really an issue. The kids just show up a couple days later with a new phone.
     
  22. MissWull

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    Well, this doesn't interfere with taking the phone away all day and giving it back at the end of the school day.

    Plus...up til a couple years ago elementary kids didn't have cell phones nearly as much as they do now. So I'm sure they could manage...as they did once before.
     
  23. mmswm

    mmswm Moderator

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    Misswull...my response was more aimed towards the policy that said no phones at all...not even if they're off and in lockers. Your school's policy is reasonable to me, but not the other.

    As far as elementary is concerned, I still can't come up with a reason for those kids to have one. Middle and High school, I can see, but elementary is just too young.
     
  24. Mr D

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    I agree; elementary kids DO NOT need cell phones, but many of them do have them. I actually had a girl in my class last year who went to the bathroom to call her Mom because she wasn't feeling well and wanted to go home. She didn't even mention being sick to me at all, and I was very surprised when the office called telling me that she was going home!
     
  25. DreamToTeach

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    As a mom - a paranoid mom - I want my daughters to have their cell phones at school. We, too, have experienced two lockdowns last year and the students were allowed to call parents to tell them they were okay. One was because a gang fight at school and I was very worried. I also had to contact my older daughter when we had to rush another daughter to the hospital in another town, and my daughter needed to pick up our youngest. We called the school first and gave them the heads up and told them the basics. They released her from class and we were able to talk on her cell phone to give her more specifics and what to do while we were driving our girl to the hospital. As a teenager, she once had a major teen-girl drama and was hysterical. She called me from the bathroom, and I gave her a short pep talk and told her to pull herself together and get back to class. I know as a teacher this sounds too soft, but I would be heartsick if she would have been so sad all day. She would have gotten over it on her own, but a quick talk to me and off she went to take on the world again. BUT . . . if I found out she was using it during class or that they had to take it away because she was abusing it, I would be furious!! But, generally, I feel much more comfortable as a mom knowing I can reach her or she can reach me if necessary. And frankly, I'm worried A LOT about terrorism and gang violence, and I WANT to be able to reach her. BTW, reaching a live person in my daughter's high school or my 5th grader's elementary is almost impossible. On the day of the hospital visit, I called my daughter elem. school 4 times and left messages on a machine! I got a call back that evening at 4:30!! WHAT?? What would I have done? Thankfully, my sister works at the school as an aid, and I called her cell phone and she got my daughter for me. That's the kind of system we have here. The office never did tell her what was going on.
     
  26. TXTCHR29

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    Cell phones frustrated me so much last year!!! (Title I school yet almost all the students had cell phones, go figure...) Anyway, our district policy is that it is not to be out at all during school hours. If a teacher so much as sees the cell phone out they can take it up. Cell phones are given to the office and parents have to pay $15 dollars to get the phone back. I will definitely make sure my students and their parents are aware of the policy this year!
     
  27. TAZmo

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    High school teachers at our CTA meeting were complaining about the cell phone use last year at our HS. I told them if they caught my child (also a board member's child, my husband is on the board) using their cell phone to take it away. My children know the policy and they know they must follow the rules or suffer the consequences. The same teachers also complained that when they took the phones away the kids parents gave them right back to them. I told them that I could guarantee that two students would not have that happen (my children). I would take the phone away for awhile if my child got caught using them at school. I expect them to follow all school rules. However I know other board members children in the school were allowed to do just about whatever because they were school board member's children. I let these teachers know that I did not feel that my children should be treated differently than any other child in the district just because their dad happened to be on the school board. But I digress. I know cell phones are great for after school stuff. However, I think they should be taken away from students during the day if they have them out.
     
  28. each1teach1

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    I don't mind students having cell phones. I mind cell phones playing dirty lyrics while I'm talking, buzzing endlessly, and a student's eyes darting madly between me and their cell phone as they try to "slyly" text message inside their desk. I don't know about my new district but my ST district had a policy where the first time, I took it up and gave it back at the end of class. The second offense, they get it back at the end of the day. The third time, it goes to the office and the parent can pick it up only on Tuesdays and Thursdays between 2:15 and 3:30 to make it as inconvenient as possible so maybe they'll jump on their kid for getting it taken up THREE separate times.
     
  29. Sarge

    Sarge Enthusiast

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    If a student is texting during class, why not just take the phone and read the message outloud. Works for note passing, why not text messages?

    With notes, I'd also correct the grammar and spelling as well.
     
  30. each1teach1

    each1teach1 Cohort

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    Maybe because what they write embarrasses me even if it doesn't embarrass them:
    flashback to the infamous "bisexual lesbian slut" letter. "How u gon be sayin dat Im a slut jus cuz I be sleepin wit other dudes? And I dont no why you believe dat gurl dat said I wuz bisexual. She dont no wut she talkin bout. She a lesban n e wayz

    :eek: that's why I don't read anything I find out loud.
     
  31. SciTeacherNY

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    This is the policy at my school. Last year I took away a phone and gave it to the principal (as is board policy). (Note this was not the first time I took away his phone, but was the first time I gave it to the principal). Needless to say the principal contacted the parent about the phone and the parent said I should be written up for "stealing" the phone. Luckily my principal stood up for me.
     
  32. SciTeacherNY

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    Also - when I was in high school if you absolutely had to call your parents you used a pay phone or if you had no money and it was an emergency you asked politely to use the office phone. If my parents needed to contact me, they didn't text or call me in the middle of class, instead they called the office and left a message, which I received in between classes.
     
  33. 3Sons

    3Sons Enthusiast

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    To remove, yes. To keep for an extended period, no.

    If a school wants to get serious, they'll suspend the student for the first offense (assuming suspension works as a deterrent at all). The OP noted the policy; what I think may be objectionable is the "keep until the end of the year" aspect of it.
     
  34. Sarge

    Sarge Enthusiast

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    Of course, if you really want to choose the nuclear option, when you take a phone, go through the text messages and share any interesting one's with the student's parents.

    I'm steadfastly against prohibiting students from having cellphones in their possession at school. They should be turned off. They should not be used in class. If the phone rings in class, it should be taken. All of these things are enforceable in any well managed school or classroom.

    But they should be allowed to bring cell phones to school.

    Keep in mind that the days of there being a pay phone at every gas station and convenience store are all but gone. Nowadays, if you need to call someone when you are not in your own home, you pretty much need a cell phone.

    I had a first grader with a cell phone last year. She was being raised by a single mom who worked and went to school and had very erratic schedule. Some days the girl got picked up by her aunt, some days she took the bus to daycare, some days she took the bus to her house and some days her mom picked her up. She was also in after school tutoring which sometimes canceled on rather short notice.

    To say this girl did not need a cell phone at the age of six would be wrong. Quite often, I found it very convenient that at least one of my students could easily find out where she needed to go after school on her own without having to rely on the office to let her use the phone.
     
  35. kpa1b2

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    My daughter's high school's policy, is if they see it they take it. Even during lunch. Can you guess, that's when my daughter had her's out, not to talk or text, but to check the time. She doesn't wear a watch.

    I took my sweet, ole time getting to school to pick up her phone. It was a couple of days or more. 2nd offense was an automatic suspension. She never reached that point.

    She also learned her lesson.
     
  36. esfgirl

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    What I find most hysterical about the whole cell phone issue, is that last year many of my student were getting calls and texts from their parents who CLEARLY knew the rules (we speak to every parent before their kid entered our program) So if the parent isn't enforcing it, why would the kid listen to the teacher.

    I agree, take the phone, not only is there the potential problem with cheating, etc. they are distracting, and they bring the outside world into the classroom. Last year I had a girl who received a text of a naked photo of her boyfriend, taken by another girl. My student obviously wasn't in any frame of mind to work after that. And, she refused everyday to hand over her phone (and the principal did nothing...but thats another post!)
     
  37. LMath85

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    ...and how funny it is because they think they are being slick! haha I always laugh. Its like you have a target on your head if you are looking down with your hands in your desk!!
     
  38. MathTeacher29

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    I tell my students there is nothing that interesting on my floor that you need to stare at it for 3 minutes. Now give me your cell phone.
     
  39. kickatstars

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    My district's policy is an automatic 1 day out-of-school suspension. The kids are supposed to have their phones off during school hours, no matter what, and out of sight. We encourage them to keep them in their lockers, but of course that doesn't happen! I usually give my kids one chance before I refer them to the administration, but the phone does have to be picked up by their parents if I take it away. This seems to work pretty well--not many kids make the mistake of having their phone out with OSS as a clear consequence.
     
  40. kyblue07

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    My admin told us that by law we can not prevent students from carrying cell phones to school. He didn't say if this was state law or what. But, like I said, we do have policies regarding their usage and consequences for not following these.

    There have been instances where we had weather emergencies and needed to get the kids home asap and were glad that many had cell phones so that they could call parents without jamming our office lines. Still, there definitely needs to be rules for their usage. There's just no excuse for parents calling students during school unless it's an emergency and even then, why wouldn't they just call the office?!
     

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