Cell phones OK, but not during school, Niles, Brandywine officials say

Published 1:41 pm Friday, August 22, 2003

By By BEN RAYMOND LODE / Niles Daily Star
NILES -- A new state law allowing school districts to decide their own policies regarding student cell phone use is received positively by schools here.
The new law, recently signed by Gov. Jennifer Granholm and effective August 1, lifts the ban on student cell phones at schools.
The initial law was signed in 1988 and was expanded in 1995.
The law banned electronic communication devices at schools because of their association with drug dealers.
But times have perhaps changed and cell phones have become an important tool for parents to communicate with their children.
She thinks there are a lot of positives associated with students having cell phones at school, despite the usual focus on the negatives.
Students with cell phones don't have to wait at the pay phone after school to arrange pick-up if practice has been cancelled; they can notify their parents if a group of students want to go out for pizza after a school dance and, they can even use it to arrange early transport home from a dance, she said.
She thinks it's fine, however, that school districts can now decide their own student cell phone use policies.
Brawley said cell phones aren't banned at Niles High School, but students aren't allowed to use them during the school day.
In recent years, students using cell phones at the schools has not been a problem, she said.
But she remembers when cell phones first hit the market.
She said students who had cell phones would often cause disruptions in the classroom and teachers spent a lot of time confiscating cell phones.
As long as students comply with the school's rules, they apparently have nothing to fear.
Bonnie Hecker is the assistant principal at Brandywine High School.
Like Brawley, Hecker also thinks its positive school districts can now decide their own student cell phone policies.
Hecker said Brandywine Public Schools has relaxed the time frame of it's policy, a policy that previously totally banned students from bringing their cell phones to school.
Hecker said relaxing the student cell phone policy has been helpful because sometimes pay phones do break down.
She also thinks it's positive that the students can use the cell phones after school to arrange pick-ups, especially if practice has been cancelled.
Students using cell phones has not been an issue at Brandywine yet, Hecker said.
Although the school district has implemented a relaxed policy, Hecker doesn't intend to spend much time investigating incidents of lost or stolen phones.
Hecker used a catch phrase to illustrate the school districts attitude to students and cell phones.
Superintendent Doug Law, Niles Community Schools, offered a simple explanation as to why cell phones aren't allowed during the school day.