The following comments were made to the Harford County Board of Education by parent Michelle Gardner at a public meeting May 23. A copy was provided to The Dagger for publication:
During the Board of Education meeting on 5/23 I requested that the Board revise the current school Cell Phone Policy. Cell phones are either disallowed or must be turned off on school property. If a student is found to have a cell phone turned on it is confiscated overnight and in some cases–for the remainder of the school year–and parents are not notified that this has occurred until they arrive home and the student tells them their phone was taken by the school.
I can understand the need to prevent distraction during class time and if a child is actively using their phone during class time I can understand a teacher confiscating it for the duration of the class or even the school day; but keeping a mobile phone overnight in the principal’s office serves no purpose at all and the only explanation I have been able to get from my son’s principal is that: “It forces the parent to come and sign for it in person the next day.”
In the meantime, there are definite risks and dangers associated with this practice especially for families that do not have a landline:
a. Inability to dial 911 after school until a parent returns home (The FCC reports 70% of all 911 emergency calls are made from mobile phones.)
b. Complete loss of communication for emergencies and natural disasters such as: lockout, injury, house fire, flood, hurricane, tornado, blizzard, criminal fugitives
c. Inability for emergency responders or law enforcement personnel to use GPS data to locate missing child
d. Inability to receive national disaster and emergency information via text
e. Loss of identification and emergency contact information–a cell phone provides a great deal of information about the owner; in the event of an emergency, if my son is injured or unconscious and cannot speak to medical personnel—they will have my contact information stored in his cell phone along with other members of his immediate family.
The benefits of mobile technology have outpaced this policy and it is need of revision. In the absence of a parent, a mobile phone is the only means of self defense a child may have.
Links to more information: