Lawrence Board of Education dials up new policy

Cell phones are now permitted at township schools.

By: Lea Kahn
   Acknowledging the growing popularity of cell phones, school district officials have revised the district’s current policy to allow students to possess cell phones on school property.
   The Lawrence Township Board of Education introduced a policy revision last week that would permit students to have cell phones on school property. Pagers — or "remotely activated paging devices" — would continue to be banned, except under special circumstances.
   A pager would be permitted to be carried by a student who is a member of a volunteer fire company or first aid and rescue squad and who is required to respond to an emergency. The student also would have to provide a letter from the fire chief or first aid squad chief, authorizing him or her to have a pager.
   The new policy is driven by changes in state law that permit students to possess cell phones, Schools Superintendent Max Riley said. Pagers are still banned, he said.
   "Cell phones are associated with safety," Dr. Riley said. "Parents outfit their children with cell phones. They came in handy during the tornado (in September). The telephone lines were gone, but the children could call their parents."
   Dr. Riley plans to sit down with teachers and administrators to develop a policy regarding cell phone usage so there is no interference with the instructional process. Students may be able to carry cell phones, but they must turn off the cell phones during class, for example, he said.
   Students who violate the rules and regulations that will be set up to cover cell phone usage would likely have their cell phones confiscated and handed over to their parents, Dr. Riley said. The parents would talk to their child about the appropriate use of a cell phone, he said.