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|OPSB adopts staff/student policy for wireless communication|
The Ouachita Parish School Board unanimously agreed to adopt a policy that better defines guidelines for wireless communication between students and school personnel.
The policy was adopted last week during the school board's regular meeting.
Gary Armstrong, child welfare and attendance supervisor for parish schools, said the intent of the new policy was to protect students and employees from what could happen through improper communication.
The new policy prohibits communication among staff and students after 9 p.m. Also, all school staff must obtain permission to contact a student before any communication occurred.
Penalties for those who violate the new policy range from verbal warnings to dismissal of staff and expulsion for students.
Armstrong said the school system must educate its students and faculty about the new policy.
"We want to educate both our students and employees to make them aware of what's happening … it's happening in our school system and in schools all across the country," Armstrong said. "They think they are participating in something that's harmless, and too many times, that's not the case."
Superintendent Dr. Bob Webber said the school system is not trying to limit communication among students and faculty.
"All we're saying is that before teachers even respond to a text message, they have to get permission from their supervisor and the student's parents," Webber said. "It's a small percentage of our teachers doing this, but it just needs to stop."
Armstrong also said the policy was not intended to limit the use of technology among students and faculty.
"Technology is a great thing when used properly," he said.
The policy was distributed to principals and administration prior to the school board's adoption last week. However, Armstrong said the school system will continue awareness efforts to inform students and staff about what is accepted from now on.