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Board revises cell phone policy

By Zack Steen

zsteen@dailycorinthian.com

The cell phone use policy for Alcorn school staffers is getting revised.

The 11 year old policy no longer reflects the "current times" said board member Judd Chapman.

With the change, employees of the school district are now allowed to use cell phones as needed in the event of an emergency that threatens the safety of students, staff or other individuals.

Previously the policy read that a school employee must first get approval from the principal in order to use a cell phone on the campus.

"(The old policy) said during emergency times, teachers and staff members had to get the principals permission to use their cell phone," said Chapman. "If there's an emergency, I want our teachers to be able to use their phone without an ounce of worry that they didn't ask someone if it was OK."

The previous policy was adopted in December 2008.

"Back then, times were different," said Ann Little, another board member. "That policy just didn't address what is going on now."

Little said board members and administrators are aware that the policy isn't always followed by teachers.

"We know teachers have been using cell phones during their break periods, and I think we all believe that is OK, as long as a cell phone isn't used during instructional time when students are in the classroom," she said. "Where that should change is in the case of a emergency situation. Teachers should be allowed to use their cell phone as quickly as possible in those times when seconds could save someone's life."

The new policy states:

"" The Alcorn County School Board believes that the district's purpose is to educate children attending its schools. To accomplish this mission, it is imperative that classroom instructional time is protected. Therefore, any activity that distracts the teacher from his/her ability to utilize the entire class period for instructional purpose is prohibited.

"" There are certain times in which cellular telephones might be needed to be on and visible within the school by school employees. Specifically prohibited is the use of cell phones by teachers during instructional time, except in emergency situations.

"" All employees may use as is necessary any available cellular telephone in the event of an emergency that threatens the safety of students, staff, or other individuals.

"" Any alleged violations of this policy shall be discussed in a conference between the employee and the principal. If the principal finds the violation(s) to be factual, he/she shall issue a written reprimand to the employee. This reprimand shall become part of the employee's personnel file. Repeated violations may result in non-renewal of the employee's contract or dismissal of the employee.

The district's student cell phone policy is unchanged as adopted for the 2018-19 school year.

That policy states students may have cell phones, but use is prohibited during the school day. Also cell phones should not be on during instructional time unless authorized by the teacher.