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School Cell Phone Policies: 7 Common Rules

By Aditi Mukherji, JD on August 20, 2013 8:48 AM

With baby iPhones and children's mobile apps gaining popularity, it's no surprise that school cell phone policies are becoming increasingly comprehensive.

Schools across the country have different approaches to the possession and use of personal technology on school grounds. Some schools celebrate cell phones as a powerful new classroom tool, while others deem them ADD-inducing disruptive machines.

Here are seven common cell phone policies, some of which may be in effect at your child's school:

  1. Cell phone use prohibited during school hours. A classic cell phone policy is a blanket ban on the use of cell phones during school hours or on school premises unless there is an emergency.
  2. Cell phone "check-ins" required. Other schools take the policy a little further and require students to check (i.e., turn in) their phones at the front office or in their homerooms when they arrive at school. Students can pick up their cell phones at the end of the day.
  3. Cell phones as educational tools. A number of schools have embraced the idea of incorporating technology into the school curriculum. Students receive training on permissible uses of cell phones on school grounds and proper cell phone etiquette.
  4. Cell phone use OK during breaks. Opting for some middle ground, many schools permit students to use their cell phones during transitional periods (i.e., before/after school and between classes) as well as lunch. Students are expected to shut their phones off when they enter a classroom. Schools that adopt this policy aim to avoid being at odds with students desperate for a cell phone fix.
  5. Cell phones in closed containers. Many high schools permit students to bring cell phones to school, but require them to keep cell phones off and stored in closed containers such as lockers, cars, and backpacks.
  6. Cell phone liability limits. It's not uncommon for schools to absolve themselves of liability for the theft, loss, or damage of cell phones brought on school grounds. This limitation of liability also extends to unauthorized calls, texts or photos on school grounds that could entail criminal activity.
  7. Cell phone disciplinary action. Cell phone disciplinary policies vary widely. Many policies call for confiscation of phones for a set period of time that can range from one day to the whole school year. More serious cell phone policy violations may warrant detention, suspension and parent/teacher conferences.

To learn more about school policies this back-to-school, check out FindLaw's blogs on the topic of School Law.

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