WINSTON COUNTY - Amid swirling rumors on social media about a policy regarding cell phone use in Winston County Schools, the board of education took a major step in a special-called meeting to approve amendments to a policy already in place.
The policy had stated that cell phone usage among students would be restricted to before and after school, during snack or break, during lunch within the lunchroom and with permission from the administration. The policy had also stated that permission could be given by either an administrator or a teacher, but the policy changes approved at the Aug. 4 early morning meeting, removed the word teacher. This means that all teachers who plan to use a cell phone in the classroom to teach a lesson must first seek permission of the administrator or principal before such use can be granted.
The other changes approved by the board are penalties for violating the policy. The former policy stated that, “students in violation of this policy will be disciplined under the Student Code of Conduct. Administrative responses for violators include but are not limited to...” At this point, the policy addressed other issues, but the actual penalties were not listed until much later in the policy.
The amended policy immediately states a few differences in the penalties or administrative action in response to policy violations. Administrative responses for violations include, but are not limited to:
1) First offense: Students will receive a verbal warning from school administrators. Electronic devices will be confiscated for the remainder of the school day. The device will be returned at the end of the school day to the student. The former policy stated electronic communication devices would be returned only to the parent/guardian after a first offense.
2) Second offense: The electronic communication device will be confiscated. A parent/guardian will be notified of the incident and will be responsible for picking up the device during normal school hours. The student will receive a disciplinary referral.
The former penalty for a second offense was that the electronic communication device would be confiscated and returned to the parent/guardian on the last day of the term. Students would also be assigned to in-school suspension for three days.
Third and subsequent offenses in the revised policy state that electronic communication devices will be confiscated. Parents/guardians will be notified of the incident and be responsible for working with school administration to arrange for pickup of the device during normal school hours.
“The third and subsequent offense will be considered a Class II offense,” the newly revised policy added. “Student will be subject to Class II administrative responses as stated in the student handbook.”
The former wording in the policy for the third and subsequent offense stated the electronic communication device would be confiscated and returned to parent/guardian on the last day of the semester, and student suspended one day from school.
See complete story in the Northwest Alabamian.