MCPS inclined to allow cell phones

Oct. 11, 2001, midnight | By Kang-Xing Jin | 20 years, 7 months ago

A bill to reverse the MCPS policy that prohibits students from carrying cell phones and other portable communications devices in school will be voted on by the Montgomery County Board of Education (BOE) on Tuesday.

County officials indicated that the BOE is likely to approve a change. The board is "definitely inclined to allow cell phone use by high school students,” said Katherine Harrison, assistant director of the MCPS Department of Communications.

The BOE was originally scheduled to vote on the bill on Sept 24 but postponed a decision because members felt they needed more time to deliberate.

High school students would be allowed to use cell phones before and after school and on school buses but would have to keep cell phones concealed during school hours, according to a Sept 19 draft of the bill endorsed by MCPS Superintendent Jerry Weast.

Principal Phillip Gainous said that he is against the policy change because he believes cell phones will inevitably be used during school hours. "If I had the option, then I'd keep the current policy,” he said. "There is no way that students can have cell phones in school and not use them [during the school day].”

Gainous said that if the bill gives principals discretion in choosing their own cell phone policies, he would continue to prohibit cell phones at Blair. Harrison said it was too early to tell if the final version of the bill would include such a provision.

Currently, MCPS policy prohibits all students from possessing cell phones on school property except when they are locked in student cars. However, even those phones cannot be used.

An informal Silver Chips survey of 100 students found that 30 percent have brought cell phones to school despite the current MCPS regulations. ”Most of the people I know bring cell phones to school,” said senior Durojaiye Selkridge, who conceals his cell phone in his pocket or backpack.

Currently, a student who has a ”legitimate need” for a cell phone can check it into the Business Office, according to Gainous. Students are notified if they receive a call. Gainous said students who are volunteer fire fighters currently use the check-in service.

At the Sept 24 BOE meeting, members debated whether middle school students should also be allowed to have cell phones in school.

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Kang-Xing Jin. Kang-Xing ("Mr. K") Jin is a senior in the Blair magnet program. His first name is pronounced exactly like it is spelled--"consin," as in the last two syllables of Wisconsin, where he was born. This year, he is co-managing news editor of Chips. Besides journalism, … More »

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