Livingston Parish School Board unanimously votes for updated cell phone policy

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LIVINGSTON, La. (Livingston Parish News) — The Livingston Parish School Board made the first step in adapting its cell phone policy for students.

During Thursday’s meeting, the School Board unanimously accepted a policy change to its current “Student Use of Personal Electronic Devices” policy, which forbids students possessing cell phones on campus.

The new policy, one of eight policy changes board members voted “yes” for, will allow students to possess cell phones on campus, though they must be turned “off” while on campus unless authorized by the principal and allowed by a teacher.

The current policy had not been updated since 2006 but will now face overhaul in 2019 after the school board adopted Policy JCDAE, which states:

“No student, unless authorized by the school principal or his/her designee, shall use (must be in the off position), make visible, or operate any personal electronic device including any device in a student’s possession that electronically communicates, sends, receives, stores, reproduces or displays voice and/or text communication or data on any elementary, middle, or secondary school grounds or any bus while being transported to and from school or any school functions.

“The devices shall include, but are not limited to, cellular phones, smart phones, e-Readers, iPods, SPY Pens, Pocket Audio Key Chains, audio flash drives, smart watches, cameras, video recorders and personal GPS tracking devices with audio features.

“Neither the Livingston Parish School Board nor any individual schools under the jurisdiction of the School Board shall be held responsible for lost, stolen, confiscated, or damaged electronic devices.”

Assistant Superintendent Stephen Parrill, who introduced and explained the policy to the Curriculum/Policy Committee during its meeting on Tuesday, said that around 15 schools will pilot the new policy during the 2020 spring semester.

Those schools will report back if they believe the policy needs to be changed before it is fully implemented across the district in start the 2020-21 school year.

“Our policy as it stands now is not enforceable and realistic,” Parrill said. “We’re pretty pleased this will be a happy medium.”

According to Policy JCDAE, personal electronic devices will not be allowed on campus during regular school hours for students through fifth grade. For students in 6th grade and up, electronic devices will be permitted but must be turned “off” and “not left on vibrate.”

However, if an elementary campus goes through sixth grade, the elementary rules apply to the sixth-graders. And if fifth grade is located on a junior high campus, the junior high rules apply to the fifth-graders.

Unless authorized, any personal electronic devices in use or operation during the regular school day will be confiscated and have to be retrieved by parents or legal guardians, the policy states.

The new policy allows teachers to regulate the use of personal electronic devices in the classroom ad for “specific educational purposes,” if authorized by the principal.

But under the new policy, students cannot use devices to record, transmit, or post pictures, sound, or video of a people on campus during school activities and/or hours at any time, unless directed by a teacher for educational purposes that have been approved by the principal.

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