Changes to cell rules

Rules are changing for how cell phones are handled at the high school.

“In the past, as educators, we fought the idea of cell phones, thinking they might go away,” Wapakoneta High School Principal Scott Minnig said. “They are not.

“They are ingrained in our society,” he said told Wapakoneta City Schools Board of Education members as they shook their heads in agreeance.

Changes approved this week by board members would affect how cell phones are used at the school beginning next school year.

Minnig said cell phones could be used in hallways, the cafeteria during lunch and taken to the classroom, but it would be up to teachers how they are handled there.

“They can be powerful tools,” Minnig said. “We plan to teach how to use them in a positive way.”

School administrators also are discussing a universal system to be implemented throughout the building with a red circle indicating phones could not be used and a green circle signifying it is OK.

In the classroom, cell phones and electronic devices are to remain off and out of sight unless being used with permission from the teacher for educational purposes, according to the new policy.

Students may be asked to declare their device by placing them on the desk or floor during tests or quizzes to prohibit cheating, with failure to do so considered cheating, which would result in a zero on the assignment.

Cell phones and electronic devices could be used between classes and during lunch periods and with headphones while in the cafeteria during lunch or in the halls between mods to listen to music, although once in class, all electronic devices are to be put away, according to the policy.

Personal electronic devices are not to be used at any time to take photographs or video unless given permission by the principal or assistant principal.

Violations of new school policies wouldn’t be treated as cell phone violations but interruptions of class, Minnig explained.

He said they decided to address the “prominence and potential educational value” of cell phones and electronic devices by revising the policy overseeing them.School administration reserves the right to revise or rescind the policy at any point during the school year, if deemed necessary, upon notification of students and parents.

The policy through this year had been students who brought cell phones or electronic devices to school had to leave them in their lockers, turned off, prior to their first class. At no time were the students to have the phones or devices in their possession during school hours.

Under the former policy, cell phones with picture, video or texting capability were strictly prohibited and were to be confiscated until they were picked up by a parent.

“We are no longer going to take phones and be hold responsible for them,” Minnig said of the new policy.

He said they are too expensive for school staff to be taking on that burden.

“If a student is found in violation, they will be disciplined for not following the rules, not for not following the cell phone policy,” Minnig said.

Violations are to be handled as a classroom disruption. If a student refuses to follow posted classroom rules, they can be considered insubordinate, according to the new policy.

The new policy also deletes previous policies requiring students needing to contact their parents throughout the school day to use the office phone and a policy outlining punishments for up to three offenses for cell phone violations, beginning with one Monday School for the first offense and a progressive suspension and cell phone confiscated until the end of the school year for the third offense.