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Use and Misuse of Electronic Communication Devices

November 23, 2010
Last week I had the chance to speak to a couple of classes at our high school.  It was a great opportunity to learn about the opinions and perspectives of some of our current junior and senior students.  One of the issues that we discussed is cell phone use – as you can imagine they want to bend my ear about this issue…..  Bottomline, it is a difficult policy issue for school districts across the country.

In the November 10th issue of Education Week, Ian Quillen reports on new guidelines for student electronic communication devices crafted by the Center for Education Policy at the University of San Diego. The report suggests the following answers to commonly asked questions:

• What qualifies as an electronic communication device? Cell phones, computers, pagers, and any device that allows direct electronic communication or communication via social networking.
• When do school electronic communication device rules apply? During school activities on school time and during school-endorsed activities outside of school hours.
• What constitutes misuse of an electronic communication device? Refusal to turn off a device when told; damaging school-owned devices; causing an in-school disruption; using the device for cheating, cyberbullying, or sexting.
• When can schools punish a student for misuse outside of school? When misuse causes school disruptions or harms students, teachers, or other school personnel in a manner that the offending student should have expected.
• What are acceptable consequences for misuse? Device searches; verbal and written warnings; confiscations; notices to parents or law-enforcement authorities; extracurricular restrictions; and suspensions or expulsions.

While our current Saline Area Schools policies align closely to the recommended versions offered in the article, this continues to be an area of rapid change.

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