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Ohio school district bans student cell phone use

The district's board of education adopted the new, stricter cell phone and electronic equipment policies in a 4-1 vote.

MANSFIELD, Ohio -- Students in Mansfield City Schools will no longer be allowed to use cell phones or personal electronic equipment during the school day.

The district's board of education adopted the new, stricter cell phone and electronic equipment policies in a 4-1 vote Tuesday.

The first of the two new policies bans use of cell phones or other personal communication devices not only in the classroom but also before and after school, at lunch and in between classes. Unless approved by a teacher or administrator, the devices must be "powered completely off" and stored out of sight.

The second policy bans use of cameras, laptops, personal digital assistants, lasers, laser pens or pointers, radios, boom boxes, headphones, CD and MP3 players, portable televisions electronic games and toys and pagers. The only exception to the policy allows students to use certain equipment on school buses at the discretion of bus drivers or other district staff.

"It's aggressive. I understand that," Superintendent Brian Garverick said as he made the recommendation to the board.

But Garverick said he feels parents will support the policy if the district articulates it well.

"I'm sure they would support that, understanding what social media can do in terms of disrupting an individual's life," he said."If we can remove that during the school day, and we provide technology for their education, that just leads to better things."

If a parent needs to reach a student during the school day, he said, he or she can call the school.

"That's what we used to do a long time ago. I know people are very busy these days and cell phones are so convenient, but I think it's going to provide a better atmosphere in the classroom and the building," he said.

Board member Gary Feagin, who ended up voting against the new policy, questioned whether the district has a plan to enforce the new policy fairly and efficiently.

"I'm thinking our principal or assistant principal is going to be spending a lot of time enforcing that, and there's a lot of problems with theft as well," he said. " I'm a little concerned about how we handle it the same way every time, that we can make sure that kids' rights are respected and at the same time everybody else's rights are respected."

Assistant superintendent for personnel Mark Manley said the policy was developed out of conversations with building level administrators, who said there was an "urgent need" for the policy.

Manley said he acknowledges enforcement will be an uphill battle but said the administrative team is working on a plan for communication and enforcement.