​School Board Continues Cell Phone Policy Discussion

by Leslie Lytle, Messenger Staff Writer

At the Jan. 8 meeting, Franklin County School Board members raised additional questions about student cell phone use prior to taking up a request to amend the cell phone policy. At the December meeting, representatives from the Student Advisory Council asked the board to approve a six-week trial allowing use of cell phones in the hallways before school and during class change, as well as during breakfast and lunch in the cafeteria, and in class at teacher discretion. The current cell phone policy forbids all student use of cell phones on school premises during the school day.
The students stressed cell phones were an educational tool and cited the more lenient policies of neighboring school districts. As a result of Franklin County’s policy, during the spring semester of 2017, 50 percent of the students in the Alternative School were there for cell phone related violations.
Director of Schools Stanley Bean estimated currently three or four students were assigned to the Alternative School due to cell related incidents.
“The number fluctuates,” Bean said.
Board Chair Cleijo Walker asked for information on the total number of cell phone violators assigned to the Alternative School in the fall 2017 semester.
School board representative Chris Guess asked Bean to consult with school attorney Chuck Cagle about the legality of confiscating cell phones of student violators, one of the punitive practices under the current policy. Guess also requested information on the number of incidents where school resource officers’ intervention was related to cell phone use.
The board deferred further discussion until the workshop scheduled for February before the regular board meeting on Monday, Feb. 12. The board is also expected to address questions related to the proposed consolidated middle school.
In other business, the board approved several budget amendments. The majority of changes designated how to allocate federal grant money received for drug use prevention and intervention. The Opioid Grant allocation increased by $113,000.