Make us your home page


Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

Give the kids their cell phones back, Pinellas granddad urges



Out of sight, out of mind. That's the rule when it comes to cell phones in Pinellas County schools.

If students don't keep their phones powered down and put away during school hours, they stand to have the phones confiscated. " If the cellular telephone, ECD, or electronic device is confiscated, it will be released/returned to a parent unless an alternative arrangement is agreed to by the principal (or designee)," states district policy 5500.07. (Search the policy manual here.)

It's that part about releasing the phone to parents that has grandfather Mac Perry steamed.

"Confiscate them if you want, but at days end, return these safety devices to our children who have to walk home up to two miles every day. It's dangerous not to," Perry, who has been in conversations with the district on this subject, wrote in an e-mail copied to the Gradebook. "A student who is unable to call for help while walking home is going to get seriously harmed; it's just a matter of time."

Perry, who said his granddaughter walks to school through a neighborhood with 64 convicted sex offenders, suggested that the language offering an "alternative arrangement" isn't good enough, He called it a "punish the parent" provision.

"Parents will assume their child will not use the cell phone during school hours (resulting in confiscation), so they will not take the time to come to school and plead their case with a school principal for an "alternative agreement." Then an "accident" occurs and they wish they had. Dozens of single (and double) parents work, some at great distances from school, some must ride a bus to work, some work in Tampa or Bradenton. They cannot easily take time off to come to the school and retrieve their child's safety device (cell phone). This "Punish the Parent" policy could easily result in a student being left without his/her safety device for many days."

Does he have a valid point? What should the school district do about it?

[Last modified: Friday, September 9, 2011 10:26am]


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours