Lawmaker Wants Schools to Have Text Messaging Policy

Lawmaker Wants Schools to Have Text Messaging Policy

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- Text messaging in classes and locker rooms could soon be history.

"It is a common sense approach to electronic devices in schools," said Rep. Sheryl Allen, R-Bountiful, who will sponsor legislation to require school districts have policies on electronic devices. "Yes, children need them for safety ... and parents (want) to have confidence in knowing they can communicate. But no, it cannot be a distraction in the education process."

Students won't necessarily have to leave their cell phones at home. Based on policies at several school districts, students may just have to turn off their phones in places where learning, courtesy, security or privacy is paramount.

Currently, students can use phones to text message each other during class or testing time or take embarrassing photographs in a locker room and post them on the Internet if they want to.

"Students are so good at texting they can text right under the desk ... and send answers to friends across the room," said Bryan Bowles, superintendent of Davis School District. "Our principals and teachers have had some concern in feeling like the police of those phones."

Allen said one-third to one-half of states require districts to come up with some kind of policy regarding electronic devices. She said her bill will be patterned after theirs.

Several school districts -- including Alpine, Box Elder, Davis, Granite, Jordan and Salt Lake City -- have policies governing electronic devices.

Salt Lake says kids have to shut off cell phones during class time or school activities. Alpine says they must be off in restrooms and locker rooms, too.

Davis District's policy says phones may be confiscated by school personnel if used during class time. Parents can be required to come pick up the devices if they want them back. And if a student uses a device inappropriately, he or she could be suspended.

"It's pretty much a common-sense policy. It gives flexibility school to school," Bowles said. "It seems to be working well."


Information from: Deseret Morning News

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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