Saturday, January 20, 2007

Ban cell phones in Bedford schools?
Board member Tench; cites safety and academic concerns

January 12, 2007 Bedford Times
by Emily Canning-Dean

Bedford Students in the Bedford School District are allowed to bring cell phones to school....

According to the school district's student handbook: "Cellular phones should not be visible, heard or used at any time. This includes the use of a cell phone to call parents/guardians. Students may go to their grade level offices if there is an emergency and need to contact their parent/guardian. Cell phones must be stored during the school day."

But Board of Education member Tim Tench said he wonders if the Board should look at the policy and completely ban cell phones from the schools in the future. "I don't see any reason why a student needs to take a cell phone to school." Tench said he has two areas of concern when it comes to cell phones in school: Safety and academics.

"With text messaging and Internet capabilities, I wonder if it would make it easier for students to cheat on a test," Tench said. "I'm not saying our students would be any more likely to do it than any other students, but if they didn't have a cell phone, the temptation wouldn't be there."

Tench said he is also concerned about safety because some phones have a camera feature. "What if someone started taking pictures in a locker room?" he asked.

Bedford High School Principal Kevin Gibaldi said there haven't been any cases of a student being caught text messaging during a test or using a camera phone in a locker room or bathroom.

"Occasionally we have had students who have forgotten to turn off their cell phones and they receive a call in class, but when that happens we confiscate the phone and a parent or guardian has to come to the school to retrieve it," Gibaldi said.

"Usually after that happens once, the parents put a stop to it because they don't want to come to the school to pick up the cell phone," Gibaldi said.Tench said he realizes that enforcing such a policy could be difficult.

Tench said he realizes that enforcing such a policy could be difficult.

The Warren City School District banned students from bringing cell phones to school starting Jan. 1, citing safety as the No. 1 reason. According to a district press release, "If students flood cell phone lines with calls to parents and others during an emergency situation, first responders could have difficulty communicating with each other."


I will start with Tim Tench, is a nice guy, a good guy and a long time resident of Bedford. Tim and I get along and understand we can be friends and still disagree. I applaud Tim for his enthusiasm, but this is a misdirected attempt to improve our schools.

I have been at several school board meetings in the past when cell phones in the schools has been discussed. It was expressed by the board then and repeated numerous times since, there is no problem with cell phones in the school and reiterated the above policy. This is one policy our schools are able to enforce, unlike the dress code.

Baffles me why we would need to ban something that is not creating a problem. Being in the bottom 10 of school districts in the area when we are in the top 10 in spending for students, having three schools in academic watch, makes me think there are many other issues we need to address before banning cell phones.


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