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|School board amends cell phone policy|
The Ouachita Parish School Board once again revised its student cell phone policy after several parents complained it was too harsh.
The school board acted on the matter Tuesday at its regular meeting.
Last month school board member Scott Robinson asked school officials to revisit the new cell phone policy due to concerns among parents.
The issue of concern was the confiscation of a student's cell phone for 30 days after a student violates the school system's policy governing cell phone usage on school property. The 30-day confiscation applied for first-time cell phone policy offenders.
Gary Armstrong, child welfare and attendance supervisor for parish schools, said a group of high school principals and representatives from parish middle and elementary schools were split on making changes to the current policy.
They were given two choices. One was to keep the current policy as is. The other option was to change the number of days a phone is confiscated from 30 days to 15 days.
The school board decided to change the policy to have students' phones confiscated for a total of 15 days beginning with a first offense.
The remainder of the policy will remain the same.
Students caught violating the policy a second time would not be allowed to possess a cell phone on school property for the entire school year. They would also have their phone held for 15 calendar days.
A third offense would result in the student's phone being held for the entire school year. The student also would be suspended for one day and both the student and a parent of the student would be required to meet with a child welfare and attendance officer before he or she could return to school.
For the fourth offense, the student could be recommended for expulsion and transferred to the parish school system's alternative school for the remainder of the school year.
School board member Jerry Hicks was concerned with schools not giving phones back to students for the weekend. He said cell phones today are the main way parents keep up with their teenagers when they are not together.
Superintendent Dr. Bob Webber said there are legitimate reasons for the new cell phone policy, but he understands concerns among parents.
He said students too often have used cell phones to cheat on tests or take pictures of other students in the dressing room at schools.
Board member Red Sims said the only way to stop the problem of cell phone use at school is to do away with all cell phones on school property.