Board to amend 2013-2014 student guide

Published 5:24 pm Friday, June 28, 2013

Although the Chilton County Board of Education approved last week for the 2013–2014 Student/Parent Information Guide to be printed and ready when students return to school in August, the board is not finished revising parts of the guide.

In a special meeting June 20, the board discussed updating the guide’s current policy regarding cell phones and other electronic communication devices in order to clarify penalties of possession and usage, as well as what constitutes devices deemed “electronic communication devices.”

The board approved the guide pending revisions to the cell phone policy to be determined by the September board meeting.

The 2013–2014 Student/Parent Information Guide policy regarding cell phones is listed under intermediate offenses in the Classification of Violations section and states: “Possession of a pocket pager beeper, cellular phone, unauthorized camera, laser pointer or any electronic communication/listening device, except for health or other extraordinary needs upon approval by the board of education. These articles are not to be on the person, in the building, or in any locker during regular school hours. They will be confiscated and picked up by parents/guardians only.”

The policy goes on to define disciplinary action for cell phone possession: “1st time – 5 school day confiscation and warning; 2nd time – 15 school day confiscation and 3 day suspension; 3rd time – remainder of year confiscation and 10 days in CAP.”

For disciplinary action, the policy states: “School campus community service, before/after school detention, corporal punishment, in-school or out-of-school suspension, at the discretion of the principal/assistant principal are appropriate for Intermediate Offenses. Special circumstances or repeat offenders may warrant suspension up to (10) days or a recommendation for alternative school or for expulsion. On the 4th intermediate offense in this classification during the school, the action becomes major.”

Board members expressed their own concerns as well as concerns from others about the cell phone policy being outdated and not outlining specific penalties clearly for different offenses, such as usage and possession at school.

Board member Jim Shannon said he thought the wording of the policy had created confusion and that penalties for cell phone use during school hours should be harsher than penalties for cell phone possession.

“I think the wording where it says ‘no possession of cell phones’ has created a lot of problems,” Shannon said. “You get an honor student, they bring their phone to school because they have to have it after school, they’re not using it, it’s not even on, it falls out of their purse, they’re in trouble. I just would like to see the wording a little different because those that are going to use it are going to use it regardless of how it’s worded.”

The board must also consider how the cell phone policy will affect students who utilize cell phones in the robotics program at LeCroy Career Technical Center.

The board has not set a date for meeting again to revise the guide, but Chilton County Schools Superintendent Dave Hayden said the board is still planning to at least review the cell phone and electronic communication device policy by September.

“That’s the one (policy) we’re looking right now,” Hayden said. “The policy is the same as it was until it is amended. What was in effect remains so.”

Previously, the board did not approve the Student/Parent Information Guide at its regular meeting June 18.