Area schools adjust cell phone policies to match the times – The Morning Journal




Unlike high schoolers in years past, Mallory Hebert, 16, a junior at Avon Lake High School, 175 Avon Belden Road in Avon Lake, is able to use her cell phone at school.



Many teachers at the school allow their students to use their cell phones as a resource in class, said Mallory, the daughter of Sandee Hebert.



“Over the years, it’s become less strict, because they’ve realized students kind of need their phones to do most things,” Mallory said.



Many Lorain County schools have taken a more lax approach to student cell phone use, officials and students have said.




Avon Lake High leaves it up to the teachers as to whether they want to allow their students to use their phones in class, said Avon Lake City Schools Superintendent Bob Scott.



The school district has instituted acceptable use policies and digital driver’s licenses, the latter of which allows students access to the Internet server, Scott said.



“We have been a bring your own device campus for like three or four years,” he said.



Students may use their digital driver’s license to access the server on their cell phones, tablets and laptops, Scott said.



If a student is unauthorized to use his or her cell phone, but does so anyway, teachers will take the phone on first offense, he said.



On second offense, the student is supposed to go to the assistant principal’s office, but that doesn’t happen, because for most students, losing the phone is usually punishment enough, Scott said.



Students are allowed to use their cell phones between classes, but the administration prefers they don’t text while they walk, he said.



Overall, Scott said, the cell phone policy works.



“It’s one of those things that, again, is part of our society,” Scott said.



Students at Brookside High School, 1812 Harris Road in Sheffield Lake, are allowed to check their cell phones between classes and at lunch, said Principal Brent Schremp.



“We went to, I guess, more of a relaxed policy last year and have kept with the same policy this year,” Schremp said.



Students may text, play games, search the Internet and more, but they are not allowed to make phone calls or take pictures, he said.



The school’s teachers decide what is acceptable in their classrooms, Schremp said.



Erin Gadd, director of communications and community engagement at Lorain City Schools, said the district allows fairly open access to cell phones and electronic devices.



“The philosophy behind that is cell phones are very much a part of our lives,” Gadd said. “Our goal is to help students use devices responsibly and respectfully, and our students go a great job with that.



“Many teachers have a ‘Bring Your Own Device Day’ and that’s their opportunity for students to incorporate their devices for educational purposes. This type of usage we only see as expanding with the opening of the new high school.”



Cell phone use is not as common in the lower grades, because many parents have not provided devices for their children, Gadd said.



According to a presentation during an Elyria School Board meeting, at Elyria City Schools, a pilot program at Ely Elementary last year encouraging students to bring their own devices to use in class was expanded district-wide this year.



Teachers are learning how to engage students by asking questions answered by all students on their devices rather than by raising hands to answer a question.



The devices also enable the teacher to see immediately who answered correctly, and who needs more help.



Jerome Davis, superintendent of Clearview Local Schools, said at Clearview High School, students are allowed to carry cell phones, and to use them between bells and during lunch.



“Actually, they respect that a lot more than a strict ‘no cell phone’ policy, so we don’t have as many issues with cell phones,” Davis said. “We have a few issues. We’ve never had a problem with bullying with cell phones. Occasionally, we have had some lost cell phones, but our kids are good about turning them in.”



Most of the students are able to use Smartphones for class work and for research.



“It took awhile for a lot of teachers to get used to that,” Davis said. “But now teachers are using it much more in class and because of that they are having less discipline issues.’



Sometimes student use of cell phones create awkward situations when a child calls a parent with news of an illness. The parent shows up to pick up the child and school officials are not aware of a problem, Davis said.



Last year, when the district experienced multiple bomb threats, parents and other people knew about the situation before the school had a chance to diagnose what happened, he said. The bomb threats were made by different people at different times; they were not connected, he said.



Students also have started rumors and said inappropriate things about each other through text messages, Davis said.



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