Obion County Board of Education
April 13, 2009

Agenda Item: VIII.J.

Discussion of Student Cell Phones in School

Preliminary Matters:

Cellular phone use in schools is a detriment to the educational process that may exceed any experienced in public schools. The Board has addressed cellular phone use in schools via Board policy #6.312. Tennessee’s Attorney General has opined, in Opinion No. 07-168, that schools can lawfully confiscate cell phones found on a student’s person, even if the cell phone is in someone else’s name. The Board’s policy addressing cell phones is sound.

During the current school year, we have experienced student cell phone use in a variety of ways, including, but not limited to, cheating on State-mandated tests, arranging drug deals, and even the new phenomenon, “sexting.” Parents have threatened that we cannot legally confiscate a cell phone found on a student because it was in the parent’s name, which is not true, and we have even had parents buying students new phones after the third offense of Board policy thinking that the sequence of disciplinary actions would begin anew.

To repeat, Board policy is sound on this issue, and if the Board wants to leave the policy as is, we will enforce the policy as is; however, Dyer County High School has a policy that deserves consideration. Dyer County’s policy allows parents to pick up the cell phones from the school upon payment of a $20 fine, and fines are doubled with subsequent confiscations, i.e., $40, $80, $160, etc.

Staff Recommendation:

For Board consideration and discussion only.