Local News

Wake County Schools Trying To Reach Compromise On Cell Phone Use

Posted May 20, 2002

— After the shootings at Columbine High School, a lot of parents bought cell phones and pagers for their children. The only problem is some schools said they are distracting, so Wake County school leaders are hoping to find a compromise.

When the final school bell rings at Garner High School, the cell phones come out. Officially, the Wake County School policy is there are to be no cell phones on campus -- before, during or after school, but students like Kate West work around it.

"I either turn it off or I leave it on silent. It's gone off before, but my teacher didn't take it. I answered it," she said.

Most principals like the no phone policy, but they understand why it may need to change.

"As long as we don't see it or hear it, that would be the most important thing, that education goes on without any interruption," Garner High School principal Catherine Johnson said.

Teachers are allowed to take the phones for a day. After that, parents have come to school to retrieve them.

The principals know many students have cell phones on campus, even though they are illegal. The school board is thinking about changing the policy because parents want them to have the cell phones.

"[If] something happens like Columbine or they need to get a hold of parents, they can get a hold of us," parent Linwood Sealey said.

"I feel safer with all my kids having them. They just have them set to vibrate and we have voice mail on everybody's," said parent Laura Washburn, who used to live ten miles from Columbine High School.

Linda Williams thinks there is room for leniency to let her daughter carrry a phone without being afraid of getting caught and having her phone confiscated.

"If there is an emergency or something, she better get on that phone and call. Other than that, she shouldn't be walking around in the hall with the phone on," she said.

The school board's new policy would allow students to have cell phones as long as they stay out of sight and silent until after school. Then, they would be legal to use.

The school board will vote on the issue at its meeting Tuesday.

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