Spring fever is ushering in a surge in cell phone abuse at Genoa Middle School.
School Assistant Principal Mike Vicars, on the school website and in letters sent home, reminded parents and students alike that cell phones must be kept in lockers during the course of the school day. The warning comes as school officials have seen a dramatic rise in cell phone and Ipod use in hallways in the classrooms of late.
“If they have them out the teacher will bring them to me and the parent must come in and pick that item up,” Vicars wrote in the memos. “The last 2 weeks we have collected more of these than we have all year.”
Genoa schools policy allows the students to keep their cell phones and Ipods in their lockers during school hours. They can be used before and after school.
When violations arise, school officials seize the devices. They are then turned over to Vicars until a parent comes to the school to claim them. A second violation results in a $25 fine. That money goes toward the school scholarship fund, he said.
“Usually once is enough once they get caught with the devices,” Vicars said.
The increase in cell phone and Ipod use corresponds to a rise in behavior problems associated with this time of the year, he said.
Traditionally, Vicars said, February and March mark a pivotal point in the school year.
“As an assistant principal, the months of February and March are frustrating because they are the highest discipline months of the year,” he said.
That taste of spring fever moved in faster this year as milder temperatures prevailed throughout much of the winter season.
Vicars added that the third quarter also ended Friday (March 9). “We’re three-quarters through the year. The kids have been hard at it. Kids are like other human beings. They need mental breaks from the daily grind and spring break is around the corner.”
So, cell phones are going off in class. Some students are playing games during study hall. Others just get bored in class and start texting friends.
“Like the one I just got today,” Vicars said Wednesday. “A kid was sitting in class and his phone went off. I don’t believe there was mischievous behavior behind it. It just went off. He forgot to turn off the ringer. But he’s not supposed to have it in class,” Vicars explained.
Institutions such as The National School Safety and Security Services have opposed policies allowing or encouraging students to have cell phones in school. The issue usually reemerges following cases such as the Feb. 27 shootings at Chardon High School in northeast Ohio. The argument is schools should allow and/or encourage students to carry cell phones as a safety tool in emergencies.
Still, the group stands by its stance, that on a day-to-day basis, they are disruptive to the educational environment, according to the NSSSS website.
However, as administrators, Vicars said, school systems will have to embrace these electronic devices a little more. “It’s a big part of their worlds, their lives. And it will aid in education, but we just don’t have a system set up for that here (in Genoa school district) now.”
Port Clinton schools have modified their electronic device policies in recent years to include student use of cell phones and other electronics.
At the high school, students are allowed to carry their cell phones and Ipods and use them between classes and during lunch periods.
“Some teachers let them use Smart phones in class for research. Others have a “no cell phone policy,” said Jan Gluth, the head of student, staff and community development for the Port Clinton School District. “It’s up to the individual teacher.”
Those devices though – including phones, tablets and laptops – must be registered with the district to tie into the district’s Internet network.
Port Clinton Middle School, however, falls in line with Genoa’s current policy.
Students are allowed to use cell phones before and after school. But during regular school hours, they are restricted and must be stored in lockers, said Troy Diels, dean of students.
“We haven’t see any increase in cell phone use,” Diels said. “It’s something that’s on going – not necessarily every day. We run into something about once every two weeks.”