Local News

District moves to modify student cellphone policy

SEBRING - Student cell phones would not be confiscated after the first violation of them being used in school, according to a proposed change in the code of student conduct, but repeat violations could result in a referral. The Highlands County School District continues to modify its cell phone policy to find the right balance between allowing students to carry them but not causing disruptions with their use in school. Revised changes proposed by school officials relaxes rules requiring the phones to be stored away at all times. The Highlands County School Board is scheduled to vote on the proposed changes before the new school year. The school board voted June 18 to advertise the proposed changes for public review.
The current code of conduct states that unless they are authorized for "educational use" by an administrator or teacher, all electronic communication devices must be powered off and stored in a locker, backpack, vehicle or other carried container. They are not permitted to be visibly worn on the person unless in "authorized use." The proposed revision does not require electronic devices to be stored in lockers or backpacks but states that students will be asked to turn them off and put them away in case of unauthorized use. Deputy Superintendent Rodney Hollinger explained that under the proposed change, teachers won't be asked to confiscate the phone on the first infraction. Teachers will report it to administrators and it will be treated as "progressive discipline," eventually leading to a potential referral "for defiance of authority," he said. "Repeated use of an electronic device may result in an administrator confiscating the device and returning it to the parent after a parent/administrator conference," the proposed code of conduct states. "A student will be issued a referral for Defiance of Authority if they do not follow a teacher or administrator's directive to turn off and put away an electronic device." Here are the proposed consequences for any infractions: at the elementary level, principal/teacher/parent conference within three days of the incident and at the secondary level, a minimum of one day of in-school suspension or corporal punishment. mvalero@highlandstoday.com 863-386-5826