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Morning Sun
  • Incidents prompt cell phone policy questions

  • Several recent incidents in which students from Frontenac and Pittsburg schools have used cell phones to distribute inappropriate material to other students has prompted officials from both districts to consider amending their policies regarding the use of cell phones in school.

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  • Several recent incidents in which students from Frontenac and Pittsburg schools have used cell phones to distribute inappropriate material to other students has prompted officials from both districts to consider amending their policies regarding the use of cell phones in school.
    The incidents in both districts, which involved students distributing compromising photos of themselves and other students that were taken with cell phone cameras, are new to both districts, officials said. Students have been suspended in both instances.
    Administrators said they are examining their districts’ policies regarding the issue, namely because such issues have not been a problem in the past.
    Pittsburg USD 250 currently doesn’t have a policy regarding inappropriate cell phone use, Superintendent Destry Brown said, because it hasn’t happened in the past.
    “I don’t want to have a knee-jerk reaction and say nobody can have cell phones,” Brown said, adding that cell phones have their merits and that some teachers use them as teaching devices. “We just have not updated our policies as quickly as technology has advanced. We’re not going to take phones away all together. We would rather teach students to use them safely and appropriately.”
    The issue is especially important in the Internet age, when information that is put online can stay there forever. He said parents should be vigilant about knowing what their children are doing with their smartphones.
    “Parents need to understand that we need some help to monitor safe use of cell phones,” he said. There are things going out in cell phones and landing in the wrong hands. And it’s not just cell phones, it’s social media in general. That’s how our kids communicate today.”
    Brown said he hopes to have a draft policy for the USD 250 Board of Education to examine in November, and said a new policy could be in place for the spring semester.
    “We also will talk about how to educate kids about the policy and provide some information about safe use of cell phones and social media,” Brown said.
    Frontenac USD 249 Supt. Dale Slagle said his district also is trying to educate its students about the dangers of posting inappropriate material online, and about how the actions of one student can seriously, even if unintentionally, harm another student.
    “Kids are raised with that and they just don’t see the harm,” Slagle said. “They need to understand that there’s an appropriate time to do that and an inappropriate time, whether it’s a kid on the receiving end of something that’s hurtful or someone who doesn’t understand the consequences of what they’re doing.
    “If you have a picture of someone, that’s pretty serious,” Slagle continued. “And if you sent to someone else, that’s even more serious. They don’t realize those things are out there for anybody. It can be devastating to a person.”
    Page 2 of 2 - Currently, students can have their phones in class, before and after school and during lunch, Slagle said, adding that the district does employ Internet content filters. That could change, though like USD 250, Slagle doesn’t want to have a knee-jerk reaction.
    “When these things happen you look at your policy,” he said. “The potential for harm is so much greater with the Internet. At the heart of it, we’re teaching the Golden Rule: Don’t do to someone what you wouldn’t want them to do to you.”
    Slagle said Crawford County Attorney Michael Gayoso will visit Frontenac High School next week to discuss Internet safety.
     
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