Administration enforces tighter cell phone rules

By Vasant Joseph, Editor-in-Chief

CHS administration is cracking down on cell phones this year in order to comply with MCPS rules regarding student cell phone use. With heavy emphasis on stricter enforcement and posters warning students to keep phones “off and out of sight,” administrators are hoping to curb cell phone use once and for all.

Despite what students may believe, the current cell phone policy—that students may carry their phones with them assuming they are off and put away—has remained the same as in previous years.

“The [SMOB] representative voted a few years ago to allow students to keep cell phones with them as long as they are turned off during the day,” assistant principal Doreen Brandes said. “Since this rule has been violated by students, MCPS has instructed all schools to tighten down enforcement of this rule.”

According to security team leader Terry Bell, the school has already reported success with the policy, as they have been confiscating an average of 10 cell phones a day. While the security team hopes to see these numbers decrease throughout the year, according to Bell, the number of confiscations this year has been much higher than in the past.

“I think [the confiscations have] been very effective because there is more consistency with teachers enforcing it in the classroom, whereas prior to the [policy], there was more inconsistency,” Bell said.

One major concern among students who are opposed to the enforcement of the policy is the inability to use phones at lunch.

“[We should] be able to use cell phones at lunch since we’re not actually learning anything at lunch,” junior Mahak Chopra said.

Parents have also argued that students need their phones so they can talk to each other in the event of an emergency.

 “When kids were younger, parents would get their kids phones in order to communicate in an emergency, but now that flexibility of communication has been taken away,” parent Mona Stephenson said.

Fortunately for these students, MCPS may be on its way to allowing cell phone use during lunch for a select number of schools.

According to SMOB Timothy Hwang, the Board of Education (BOE) voted to start a pilot program at a few volunteer schools in order to test the viability of using cell phones at lunch. According to Chris Cram, a spokesman from the Public Information office, MCPS has yet to determine which schools will be involved in the program.

However, MCPS will have to alleviate concerns that the Principals’ Union and consultants from the National School Safety and Security Services, who attended BOE meetings, expressed about cheating and other unethical behavior before   the policy could be fully implemented throughout the county.

According to both Brandes and Principal Joan Benz, any parent-student communication should be done through the main office, and students can use the main office phone in case of an emergency.