Image-capturing devices banned at high schools

Cell phones permitted,
but must be turned off
during day in FRHSD

Staff Writer

Image-capturing devices
banned at high schools
Cell phones permitted,
but must be turned off
during day in FRHSD
Staff Writer

The Freehold Regional High School District Board of Education has passed a ban on the in-school use of all remotely activated or activating communication devices, also known as portable two-way telecommunication devices.

The ban, which was approved at the board’s June 21 meeting in Englishtown, included but is not limited to cellular telephones with or without cameras; beepers; walkie-talkies; other hand-held computing devices used as a communication device; any portable electronic device capable of storing and transmitting or receiving images, such as cameras; as well as any new technology developed for similar purposes.

"I’ve already talked to the principals about it and the policy will be in the handbook that every student receives," said Superintendent of Schools James Wasser. "It’s a very big concern of mine. No one would want their child who is changing in the locker room to have someone take their picture and put it on a Web site."

The policy allows students the privilege to possess, display and use remotely activated or activating communication devices before and after the instructional day, provided such devices are not displayed, activated or used inside school buildings during the instructional day.

"All devices must be turned off and [placed] out of sight during the instructional day," according to the policy.

The instructional day includes, but is not limited to, lunch breaks, class changes, study halls and any other structured or non-structured instructional activity that occurs during the normal school day. Students are responsible to ensure that their devices are turned off and are out of sight during the instructional day.

"Cell phones with cameras and other portable remotely activated or activating communications devices capable of storing and transmitting or receiving images are banned from school property at all times," according to the policy. "Students will be disciplined for the possession of cell phones with cameras on school property unless permitted by the principal or [the principal’s] designee."

The policy also notes certain exceptions such as students who are active members in good standing of a volunteer fire company, first aid squad, ambulance or rescue squad or who have been documented to require a cell phone or pager for specific emergency reasons, if the pupil is required to respond to an emer­gency. A document from the chief execu­tive officer of the volunteer organization to the school principal will be required.

If the policy is violated the prohibited device can be confiscated by the principal and the student’s privilege for future pos­session or use of such devices would be revoked.

The board assumes no responsibility in any circumstances for the loss, destruc­tion or theft of any cellular phones, or other devices, the policy noted.

During the public portion of the meet­ing, resident Kathy Heinzelmann of Freehold Township asked if the policy will really be implemented because "you can’t tell one cell phone from another."

Board member Bonnie Rosenwald of Marlboro said the policy deals with more than cell phones.

"It deals with any type of gadget that would take pictures and transmit and re­ceive information," said Rosenwald. "It could be text messaging. It’s out of sight and it must be off."

Rosenwald reiterated the section of the policy which states that cell phones with cameras and cameras which are [the size of her hand] can’t be in school at any time.

Wasser suggested that students and parents who have not already purchased new cell phone policies should not get one for camera phones.

Rosenwald said if the cell phones are visible there will be no second chances. They will be taken away.

Commenting after the meeting Heinzelmann said, "I support and I want to applaud the school principals for rec­ognizing this serious problem and bring­ing it to the administration’s attention, which ultimately resulted in the board amending its current policy to ban image-capturing devices, such as cameras and camera phones, on all our school proper­ties at all times."

Heinzelmann said she is concerned about the devices at two levels: the possi­ble compromising of a level playing field in testing, due to cheating abuses that she said are already occurring; and most importantly, as a safety/privacy issue for all students whose image could end up captured in many sensitive locations, such as locker rooms.

"If our district families are given suffi­cient notice with full explanation, I antic­ipate they would all support this new pol­icy," said Heinzelmann. "No one wants anyone’s child at risk." She said she has every confidence that administrators will be able to fully en­force the ban starting immediately.

In other business, the board approved the retirement of Carol McKee, the prin­cipal at Freehold High School, Freehold Borough, effective Sept. 1, 2005. McKee will have served 13 years at the time of her retirement.

Administrators announced there will be three new assistant principals in the district this fall — Maria Ilarraza at Manalapan High School; Christopher Mingrone at Colts Neck High School; and Shaun Boylan at Marlboro High School. Boylan has been Marlboro’s supervisor of extracurricular activities for the past two years.

Board members voted, 3.45 voting points yes to 2.25 voting points no, to au­thorize a food service management con­tract with Sodexho for the 2004-05 school year for an administrative fee of $126,225 billed at 5 cents per meal, the a la carte meal equivalent factor of $1 and a guar­anteed return to the district of not less than $145,910.

Board members Kathie Lavin, Diana Cappiello, Ron Lawson and Rosenwald voted yes. Board members Bernice Hammer and Chia Whitehouse voted no. Board members Christopher Placitella and Terry Kraft were absent. Board member Patricia Horvath did not vote on the matter.

Students from Howell attend the six schools in the Freehold Regional High School District.