Friday, December 20, 2013
In a called meeting of the Dorchester School District Two Board of Trustees this morning, board members approved a proposed pilot program to allow students in the three high schools to use electronic devices at school. The motion stipulated that the pilot program would begin after the winter holidays and would continue through the end of this school year in May. Students will be allowed to have personal electronic devices on school property and use them only during non-instructional time in the school day, such as before and after school, lunch, and during class change.
Ashley Ridge High Principal Karen Radcliffe, Fort Dorchester High Principal Bert Postell, and Summerville High Principal Kenny Farrell presented information on this pilot program to the Board of Trustees during a board workshop on Dec. 2. All three principals agreed that the current board policy that bans telecommunications devices on school property during the school day is difficult to enforce and most students have phones at school. Administrators have met with parent groups and teachers who support a policy for controlled use of phones at school. Parents want to be able to communicate with their children during the day for safety reasons. Principals also noted that they have spoken with administrators in other high schools in the state who have implemented similar policies and the revised system seems to work well.
Now that the school board has approved the pilot program, guidelines for the use of telecommunication devices will be finalized and communicated to students and parents. There will be penalties for students violating the established rules for use. Board Chairman Gail Hughes said that this is a good first step in allowing students to use personal electronic devices at school. “The program will be evaluated at the end of the school year and a determination will be made whether to move forward with changes to the policy on student use of electronic devices at school.”