For the second time in a year, District 202 board of education members were less than receptive to a proposal to allow teens to talk and text on their cell phones while on campus.
On Monday, the school board discussed a proposal that would allow high school students to use their cell phones and smartphones on their own time, but not during class. The policy change would have allowed phones to be used before and after school, during passing periods and during lunchtime, but not instructional time, according to Director of Community Relations Tom Hernandez.
“The idea being that this is already happening,” Hernandez said, pointing out the reality that teens are, in fact, using their phones on campus. The policy could help cut down on cell phone-related discipline issues since “the horse is already out of the barn,” he said.
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Board member Rod Westfall said Plainfield South Principal David Travis first brought the proposal to the board’s Personnel, Policy & Administration (PPA) committee six months ago.
“We basically told him no then, and he brought it forward at committee again [last week],” Westfall said.
This time around, other District 202 high school principals are on board, Hernandez said.
But that didn’t seem to carry much weight
with the board, based on their reactions to the revived proposal.
“[Travis] was told last night again no, because our philosophy is the kids are there to learn,” Westfall said. “I’m 100 percent against it. They can social network on their own time — after they’re out of the building.” He noted that if parents need to get ahold of their children, they can do so by contacting the school office.
Westfall added he didn’t see a reason to bend the rules just because some kids are already doing it.
“They need to follow the rules,” he said. “Ninety percent of the kids follow the rules. So now you’re going to adjust the rules for the 10 percent that don’t?”
Board member Michelle Smith agreed with Westfall. “I’m a no,” she said. “I’m a definite no.”
Electronic devices became an issue last year in Naperville, where school administrators investigated a cheating scandal after implementing a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policy allowing cell phones, tablets and laptops in class.
The proposal was brought up for discussion at Monday night’s board of education meeting, but was not on the agenda for a vote. Smith said she didn’t know when, if ever, the board might take formal action.