The rules may soon change for Bibb County students using cellphones at school.
The Bibb County School District School Board is considering revising its policy on student use of personal electronic devices in classrooms. A proposed new policy was first presented at Thursday’s regular meeting.
The district has not updated its policy on student use of electronic devices since 2018, when it first allowed employees and students to use personal electronic devices for educational purposes. The policy was implemented as the district worked to provide every student with a school-issued device.
Now that every student has a district-owned device, council member Daryl Morton said he no longer sees a need for students to have cellphones in the classroom.
Morton said he was recently contacted by a local television station and asked to comment on a video showing a teacher being assaulted by another student. Another student took the video and posted it on Facebook.
Morton said he called the district central office to inquire about the situation and was told the teacher didn’t know and was embarrassed.
“It bothers me that we have students filming at school not to say, ‘Oh, I have a video of something that happened to give to an administrator,’ but to use that situation to attract attention to themselves and also to embarrass our employees,” Morton said.
Teachers have discretion as to whether students in their classrooms are allowed to use personal devices, Morton said, “but I’m starting to wonder if there’s any cell phone use in a classroom given the 1 to 1 technology initiative that we have where each student has an electronic device.
The incident describes several violations of current district policy that prohibits students and employees from recording or taking photos of others at school without a teacher’s approval. The policy also states that “distribution of any unauthorized media may result in disciplinary action including, but not limited to, suspension, criminal charges, and expulsion.”
The issue should be taken up again at the April meeting.
“I’m glad we’re looking at this because it’s gotten a little out of control,” Morton said.
Board member Juawn Jackson said Central High School had “great success” in banning cellphones in classrooms.
In other cases, the board approved the hiring of three directors and dozens of assistant directors.
New principals include: Keisha Wallace-Dawson at Lane Elementary School, Donna Cline at Heritage Elementary School and Kizzie Lott at Bruce Elementary School.
Also at Thursday’s meeting, the board approved a $98,000 settlement with an employee whose lower back was injured when a student ran into her. The employee developed a pain disorder associated with inflammation of a vertebral membrane.
In other matters, the board approved:
- $297,000 to Vista Higher Learning for Spanish and French textbooks.
- $134,500 to The Princeton Review – Tutor.com for online tutoring and homework help paid for with US bailout money.
- A $53,880 per month contract with Cox Business to provide wide area network connectivity between all Bibb Schools sites and internet access for the 2022-2023 school year.
- $772,383 to Sheridan Construction for renovations to the Westside Tennis Center to be paid for using money from the district’s capital projects fund account.
- $648,566 to International City Builders for the construction of an agricultural barn at Rutland Middle and High Schools, to be paid for with US bailout money (CTAE).
- $10,496,357 to International City Builders for Miller Middle School renovations to be paid for with 2021 ESPLOST money.
- $5,997,120 to International City Builders for Union Elementary School renovations to be paid with 2021 ESPLOST money.
- $187,437.30 to Utah-based Audio Enhancement for SAFE Alert Equipment to extend Alert System technology to all school gymnasiums and cafeterias. Additional receivers in these areas will allow any district employee with a microphone to quickly alert the front office and administration in the event of an emergency.
- $171,750 to Wade Ford of Smyrna for 5 SUVs stopped by police for campus police.
- Declaration of 14 Blue Bird school buses as surplus assets for sale.
- $1,564,500 to Yancey Bus Sales for a dozen new school buses.
- Request to submit an application for state approval to carry over $314,793 in total unspent money from fiscal year 2021 to be applied to fiscal year 2022 to continue 21st Century Community Learning Centers in Ballard -Hudson Middle School and also Bruce, Hartley, Heritage, Bernd, John R. Lewis, Skyview, Heard, Southfield and Veterans Elementary Schools. Funding supports after-school summer programs that provide homework help and nutritious snacks. Students in the program are at risk of failing in core academic subjects.
To contact Civic Journalism Fellow Laura Corley, email [email protected] or call 478-301-5777.