Phones in classrooms? This Kansas district says no

(The Lion) — The Great Bend Board of Education approved a measure that would ban the use of cell phones in classrooms of its Kansas high school by a 4-2 vote.

“I’ve already made an enemy in my household with this one,” Great Bend Superintendent Khris Thexton said, according to the Great Bend Tribune. “Phones are not supposed to be used during class. Even our substitute teachers prefer a school that doesn’t allow cell phones in class. We want students paying attention to what’s going on in class, not what’s going on in their phones.”

After the first offense, a student can retrieve a cell phone from the teacher. But after subsequent offenses, a device can only be returned to a parent or guardian, reported the Great Bend Post.

“Plain and simple: the phone is not supposed to be out during class,” Thexton said, according to the Post. “I’ve talked to a number of high schools. Passing periods, fine. Lunch, fine. But not during class.”

A fourth offense may result in after-school detention.

The district already restricts cell phone use for elementary and middle school students.

“It may be harder for some of the teachers than for some of the students,” said board member Chad Burroughs, according to the Tribune.

Burroughs and board member Lori Reneau voted against the measure.

Thexton said that he will leave it up to the school principals to enforce the cell phone restrictions, but it starts with teachers enforcing the measure fairly and refraining from using cell phones themselves in the classroom.

“Yes, they’re the adult in the classroom, but they’re going to need to model the behavior,” he said, according to the Post. “That’s going to be a discussion we have with the principals to start off, that we understand.”

Thexton said it’s understood that there will be times when cell phone use is unavoidable, like in cases when a child is sick.

“But if you’re up there scrolling on your phone while they’re working on an assignment, there’s a difference between an emergency and not,” Thexton said.

The superintendent acknowledged it might take a little time for students to adapt to the new policy, but ultimately it will help them concentrate better in the classroom.

“The first two weeks will be rough,” Thexton said. “When you’re changing a behavior like that, it’s going to be hard. I think when the kids get going through that, it’s going to make a big difference on their ability to focus.”

The cell phone restrictions come nine months after one parent asked that cell phones be banned entirely from the district’s schools.

The mother said her son, who is autistic and was in the special needs classroom at Great Bend High School, went to the restroom where another student took a video of her son with his pants down and posted the video on social media, said the Hays Post.

“I don’t think there should be cell phones in the school district at all,” she told the Hays Post. “I think most teenagers don’t have the mindset and the maturity level to have cell phones to be able to take pictures of others. It’s a distraction. We send them to school to learn. We don’t send them to take pictures and videos of other students to harass and bully.”

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