Board OK's ban on cell phones

By Katheran Wasson Published:

Personal phone calls and text messages are no longer allowed during class time for Frankfort Independent teachers and staff.

Board of Education members gave final approval to a new policy Tuesday, banning personal cell phone use by employees during class time. Calls and texts must now wait for planning periods, lunch breaks or before or after school, according to the new rules.

The board first raised the issue last month, and since then, Chairman Paul Looney has fielded questions from constituents about the board’s decision to ban cell phone use for teachers, while simultaneously pushing them to use technology in the classroom.

“This policy, while very brief, is pretty succinct in that it only says not to use cell phones for non-instructional purposes during instructional time,” Looney said before Tuesday’s unanimous vote.

“The board is still very encouraging of technology use in the classroom for instruction.”

The new rule for employees is the same one students must follow, Superintendent Rich Crowe said.

He told The State Journal previously that employee cell phone use is an issue in few Frankfort Independent classrooms – maybe 2 percent – but a written school board policy is needed to keep the problem from growing.

Brad Hughes, spokesman for the Kentucky School Boards Association, says very few school districts statewide have policies related to personal use of cell phones during class time.

That’s because most of the policies only come up when there’s a problem, he said. Principals may approach district administrators asking for a policy so they can prohibit cell phone use in their schools.

Fayette County Public Schools, for example, allows principals to set their own rules regarding cell phone use by teachers and staff.

That district’s policy says employees should ask friends and family to contact them through the school’s front office in case of emergency, and it discourages non-emergency contact during work hours.

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