Schools mull phone usage

Published: Mar 28, 2006 - 08:57:34 am EST

By Jason Rhodes,
Special to the Crisfield Times

WESTOVER — Cellular telephones are a way of life for many Americans in the 21st century. However, that way of life soon may end for students in Somerset County Public Schools.

Last week, Dr. Karen-Lee Brofee, superintendent of schools, announced the Somerset County Board of Education may reconsider its student cell phone policy, which currently permits students to carry phones in schools for emergencies and parental convenience.

“This is being very badly abused to the point that students are text messaging each other all day and getting calls from parents in the middle of class,” she said.

Besides disrupting classes with cell phone use, some students may be using the devices - particularly camera phones — to help others cheat on tests, Dr. Brofee said. Camera phones may give students the opportunity to photograph tests and quizzes and pass on the questions to students in other classes.

“This is not just a problem in Somerset County. It’s a problem throughout the United States,” the superintendent said.

She also said lack of support from parents in minimizing classroom cell phone disruption compounded the problem. When cell phones are taken away from students, they are turned in to school offices, where parents may retrieve them, she said. Often when parents pick up the phones, they give them back to the students, and the cycle repeats itself.

Dr. Brofee said she planned to submit recommendations for a revised cell phone policy to board members at a future meeting.

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