Cell-Phone Policies in the K-12 System: Property Invading or Distraction Preventing?

Arent we glad this doesnt happen in college?

Aren’t we glad this doesn’t happen in college?

Technology is steadily advancing day after day with new gizmos and gadgets to help educate and develop our new skills. Younger generations tend to advance quickly when it comes to new technology, whereas older generations tend to take more time learning its perks. 


Kids use their cellphones to text each other, play games and even cheat on tests and assignments, which can cause lots of issues in the classroom. Many K-12 schools have policies that prevent students from using cellphones in class, and they do everything in their power to have students abide by this policy.

Policy Police

Ashleigh Johnson, a senior at Cathedral School in Natchez, Miss., says her school has a strict policy when it comes to cell phones. 


“We’re only allowed to have our phones in our backpack or locker,” Johnson says. “If they confiscate it, then you have to either pay a fine of $50 or wait 30 school days to receive it back. You will also have to serve Saturday detention.”


Taking a child’s cell phone away for 30 school days or having them pay such a high fee is outrageous. The child is not the one who owns the cell phone — they are the parent’s property. School days are not weekends or holidays. If the phone was taken two weeks before spring break – the break would not count towards those 30 days. 


Policy Power Trip

Those punishments aren’t harsh enough, “If a student’s phone shows that they received a Snapchat or text message from another student at school, then that other student’s phone is confiscated as well,” Johnson says. “They should not have the authority to search through student’s phones.”


School faculty and staff should not search a student’s phone with no probable cause. Just because someone sends or receives a message does not give the school the right to search through one student’s property in order to trap another.


These searches would be appropriate if they were for handling serious situations – if a student was being harassed. That should be the only reason for a school to invade a student’s property and privacy. I would not allow a teacher to search my phone. Especially since the only reason was “to see if she was texting another student.”


Possible Proper Policy?

Bailey Burley, a sophomore at Delta Charter School in Ferriday La., says her school’s policy is different but also strict. 


“Absolutely no phones are allowed on you in school,” Burley says. “If you bring your phone into school, you must turn it into the office or leave it in your car.”


I believe this is a good idea. It allows students to have access to their cell phones in case of an emergency, but it still prevents them from using them inappropriately during class. Not knowing my parent’s numbers made it difficult for me to call them if I was unwell or had an emergency. Delta Charter School’s policy allows students to use their phones in emergencies when granted permission from the office.

Phone Wardens

However, this policy is not perfect and arguably oversteps some boundaries. “They do random searches all the time during class, and they take us from our class to pat us down,” Burley says. “Sometimes it is to target a specific student,” she adds.


I do not like the idea of pulling students out of class just to pat them down and make sure they do not have a phone in their person. That action seems much more distracting than just having a cell phone! Keep in mind, these students are children. It’s as if they’re trying to find drugs or weapons on them and just using cell phones as an excuse. 


“It disrupts class time,” Burley says. “We would be in the middle of a timed test and then be pulled out of class for a pat-down.”


I take issue with this. How can the school say that cell phones are a distraction but pull students out of class and search them? I’d be focused more on if I were to be searched rather than my lesson. I would not be able to concentrate and would be so anxious worrying that they might pull me out in the middle of an exam.


Maybe Just Money Hungry?

I hoped it was just these two schools with strict policies. By doing some research, I looked up the Bayou Academy handbook. To my surprise, it’s not just Cathedral and Delta Charter with these obscure policies.


The 2021 Bayou Academy handbook states, “No cell phone use is allowed in the building during school hours unless authorized by a faculty member. A violation of this policy will result in a fine of $100 for the first offense. The phone will be taken up and will not be returned until the fine is paid.”


This is insane! Schools preventing distractions and cheating is understandable, but demanding $100 is deranged. A single cell phone line can cost up to $100! A parent might have to pay $200 that month on a single phone. 


Parents may not even be able to afford the fine, considering the financial burden the pandemic has caused. In this case, the child would have to be without a phone until they or the parent could pay. 


The Way it Should be Done

I think cell phone policies are a good idea for schools to have. They are just going about it completely wrong. Invasion of privacy, financial demands, and disregarding of property should not be utilized in these policies. 


In order to prevent cell phone distraction in the classroom, collecting phones at the beginning of the day is a good start. If teachers notice students using phones during class, only then would it be necessary to confiscate the device.