School board passes new cell phone policy by unanimous vote

Carol Ann Haddad, vice-chairwoman of the JCPS Board of Education and representative from District 6, speaks to Principal Jerry Mayes before the board meeting Monday night. Photo by Jocelyn Porter.
Carol Ann Haddad, vice-chairwoman of the JCPS Board of Education and representative from District 6, speaks to Principal Jerry Mayes before the board meeting Monday night. Photo by Jocelyn Porter.

The JCPS school board granted waivers allowing cell phone use during school hours at Manual and seven other high schools during their meeting Monday night.

The waiver was granted for a one-year trial run to see what results it will have. Students will be allowed to use cell phones in common areas such as hallways and cafeterias and also in the classroom with the teacher’s permission.

“The principal at Fairdale started the process, and I tried to give the policy strength in numbers by joining an alliance with him. When we came on board, it brought a lot of momentum into this,” said Principal Mayes, who attended the meeting.

The ruling, which passed 7-0, will be put into place for Manual, Iroquois, Fairdale, Seneca, Southern, Ballard, Waggener, and Valley High School.

No changes will take effect until both students and parents have signed a waiver agreeing to the terms of the policy. These new procedures will replace the old cell phone policy, which dates back to 2009.

“I’m really happy about the new policy, because I feel like it will help enhance education. But at the same time, it makes me nervous because phones can be a major distraction,” Sarah Kelley (10, HSU) said.

“Cell phones in classes such as English and other communication-type classes are a great resource because they allow us to connect to the world outside the classroom,” Max Duvall (12, J&C) said.

“I’m definitely glad that the policy has been modified because it allows my child to alert me to any schedule changes, such as clubs being cancelled,” Manual parent Christine Fellingham said. “There was a lot of confusion surrounding cancellations of clubs or practices last year, so this is useful to parents as well as students as long as they don’t become a distraction.”

“We have to do a really good job at Manual because this will impact a lot of things,” Principal Mayes said. “If this is successful, this will send a message that our individual schools can be trusted to find out what’s best for students. If we blow it, the chances of a school being allowed to pursue things are minimized because the experiment failed. This is kind of groundbreaking.”

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