AMITE — Students using cellphones while at school will face suspensions and fines, the Tangipahoa Parish School Board unanimously agreed Tuesday in approving a more stringent policy regulating use of personal electronic devices.
The first time a student causes a “substantial disruption” by using a cellphone, the phone will be confiscated for two days, the student will have to serve a two-day in-school suspension or one day out of school, according to the new policy.
The second offense will result in the phone being taken away for five days, and the student given a three-day in-school suspension and a $15 fine, the new policy says.
A third or subsequent offense will result in the phone being confiscated for 10 days, and the student given five days of in-school suspension and a $25 fine, the new policy says.
After each offense, a parent will have to come to the school campus to pick up the cellphone, Jackson said, and at that time sign a contract stating they understand the board’s policy regarding use.
The responsibility for determining what constitutes a “substantial disruption” would be up to the individual teachers or staff, Jackson said.
“We felt like with the policy the way it was, it was not strong enough,” Assistant Superintendent Lionel Jackson told the board. “I do not want to go into school with the same policy.”
Jackson said a tougher policy was needed.
“Last year, we had over 1,000 violations” of the cellphone policy for students, Jackson said.
Jackson originally asked the board’s Policy Committee for the right to confiscate phones for an entire semester on the second offense, a request the board approved pending legal review.
Jackson said Tuesday that a review by the board’s attorney, Christopher Moody, determined such a strict policy could “put the school system at some degree of liability.”
The committee approved the recommendation without objection.
Jackson asked the board to waive the rules and consider the policy Tuesday so it could be included in information given to students and parents on the first day of school, Aug. 11.
Other business taken up by the board included:
PONCHATOULA PURCHASES: The School Board approved two new purchases for Ponchatoula High School: a steamer for the kitchen and additional exhaust for the school’s welding lab.
The two purchases will cost the school system approximately $57,500, according to documents provided by the School Board.