Starting this fall, students at Lakeview High School in Battle Creek won't be allowed to have or use cell phones or cell phone-sized electronic devices during class, including when they're in the hallways on a pass during class time.
Previously, LHS Principal Jeff Bohl said teachers could set their own cell phone policy for their classrooms, but that flexibility poses issues for some students and leads to distractions in classrooms.
"So students move from a class where they're allowed to use their cell phone to a class where they're not at all to a class where they're allowed to use it for some reasons but not for others and as a result, it's hard for students to develop consistent behaviors because the expectations are totally inconsistent," Bohl said. "What we found is that some students are so used to using their cell phones whenever they want, that they have a hard time abiding by rules or remembering to abide by rules in classrooms where the expectations are more strict. And that results in distractions in the classroom by the student, distractions in the classroom because the teacher has to address the student."
The new policy, which was approved by the district's Board of Education on Monday night, states that students may not be in possession of or use cell phones or cell phone-sized electronic devices, including MP3 players, during class or in hallways during classes. Students are directed to stow their devices in their lockers.
Students will be allowed to use their phones and devices in the hallways during passing times or in the cafeteria during lunch, according to the policy. Students who get permission from their teachers can bring e-readers or larger tablets to class for educational purposes. This year marks the first time every classroom will have Chromebook laptops available for every student at the high school.
Bohl said in a newsletter to parents that district personnel will not be searching students in classrooms for devices.
"If a student is seen with their cell phone in their possession, so they pull their phone out of their pocket, or they're listening to music with ear buds that go down into their pocket, if we can tell that they had the device on them, they will have violated that policy," Bohl said. "If we cannot tell that they have the device on them, we're not going to be frisking people."
"The intent of the policy," Bohl continued, "is to remove cell phones as a distraction to the learning environment. That is the problem. ... The situation in classrooms now with the distraction from cell phones is really not acceptable. It's not what our parents and our community want happening."
The decision regarding the new cell phone policy was made after several discussions with the high school advisory committee, made up of teachers and support staff, and with the parent advisory committee, Bohl said.
Bohl said incidents of cell phone issues have increased every year. Kids are using them during class for a variety of reasons, including texting, making phone calls, surfing the Internet and playing games.
"More and more students have them and more and more students are used to having 24/7 access to them," he said.
On their first offense, students who are discovered to have a "disallowed" device during class will have to go to the In School Suspension room to drop off their device and then go back to class.
Bohl said officials will make sure everyone understands the new policy before it is implemented this year.