School changes policy, lets kids have cell phones in class

By Brandi Hodges - bio | email

WALNUT RIDGE, AR (KAIT) - Most schools have banned students from using their cell phones during the day.  This fall one school changed its policy.  Kids at Walnut Ridge Middle and High School can carry their phones into class, the hallway and to the cafeteria.  The only restriction is when they can use their phones!

"We just had kids constantly in school suspension because they had in their possession a cell phone," said High School Vice Principal Derek Bramlett.

The old policy didn't allow kids to have their cell phones during school hours.

"They would have it out in the hallway and a teacher would take it away from them for checking the time or for checking to see if they have a text message or phone call," said Bramlett.

Now a small change has led to a big improvement.  Kids can use their phones in between classes and during lunch.

"It's been amazing how few violations we've had of our cell phone policy just from making that change," said Bramlett.

Bramlett said they've seen an 80% drop in the number of violations.

"We're almost halfway through the year and I've had to put about five kids in school suspension this year for violations.  Last year that number would have been 40 at this time," said Bramlett.

Seventh grade math teacher Belinda Biggers worried the change would make things worse.

"When they said they could have them out in between classes I really thought there would be a problem with tardies because they would be on their phones texting or talking," said Biggers.

She said kids are not using them during class and she does not see students use cell phones very much in the hallway.

"It took the focus off of it so you're allowed to do it so they're not going to push the boundaries," said Biggers.

"We understand that all kids have phones and we talked to some parents.  Parents want their kids to have their phones here at school for lots of reasons," said Bramlett.

If a student is caught abusing the policy they will have their phone taken away and a parent will have to come up to the school to retrieve it.

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