New Cell Phone Policy Approved

By Ivana Kosir

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Starting in the fall, students will be able to text and make phone calls during certain school hours in accordance with a new cell phone policy that will be put into effect for the 2011-2012 school year for Niles West, Niles North, and Niles Central.

According to District 219 community relations director Jim Szczepaniak, the Board of Education approved the policy at meeting on Monday, May 31 along with other policy adaptations. Along with cell phones, students will be able to use other electronic devices under certain conditions.

“Niles Township High Schools provides students access to a wireless network and the option of utilizing a personal laptop, netbook, Mobile Internet Device (MID) or cellular phone as a means to enhance their education.,” states the Board Review from May 31.

Teachers hold the right to tell students to take out the listed devices or to put them away with the exceptions of during lunch, passing periods, before and after school, and resource and common areas of the school, according to the Board Review.

However, the use of MIDs and cell phones in the IRC is subject to the IRC coordinators’ decision according to chief technology director Guy Ballard.

English teacher Judy Yoo said she thinks the policy is just.

“The policy seems fair. It’s a good move to allow teachers to decide how to use cell phones in classrooms,” Yoo said.

Some students are glad that the policy got approved, and others hold different views about the policy.

“It’s better because student’s won’t want to text during class,” said junior Ilana Magel.

“I don’t mind [the use of phones during] lunch, but people walk slow in halls and they don’t pay attention to where they’re going,” said junior Gaelyn Bailey.

The District holds no responsibility for the personal property students bring to school.

Szczepaniak claims that this change may only be temporary.

“The Board plans to review how the policy is working after six months to determine if it is working well or if revisions are warranted,” wrote Szczepaniak in an email.

Below is the official policy as stated in the Board Review on May 31, 2011.

Administrative Procedure:  Personal Use of Student-Owned Laptops, Netbooks, Mobile Internet Devices and Cellular Phones in School

Niles Township High Schools provides students access to a wireless network and the option of utilizing a personal laptop, netbook, Mobile Internet Device (MID) or cellular phone as a means to enhance their education. The purpose of this procedure is to assure that students recognize the limitations that the school imposes on their use of personal laptops, netbooks, MIDs and cellular phones.  In addition to this procedure, the use of any school computer, including laptop computers, netbooks and MIDs, also requires students to abide by the Niles Township High School District Policy: 6:235, Acceptable Use Policy – Access to District Computers and Electronic Networks.

During the course of the school year, rules regarding the use of personal laptops, netbooks, MIDs and cellular phones may become a part of this procedure.

General Usage

Niles Township High School District 219 provides the opportunity for students to bring a personal laptop, netbook, MID or cellular phone to school to use as an educational tool.  The use of these laptops, netbooks, MIDs and cellular phones will be at the discretion of the teacher.

Students must obtain teacher permission before using a personal laptop, netbook, MID or cellular phone during classroom instruction.

Student use of a personal laptop, netbook, MID or cellular phone must support the instructional activities currently occurring in the instructional environment.

Students must turn off and put away a personal laptop, netbook, MID or cellular phone when requested by a teacher.

Students should be aware that their use of the laptop, netbook, MID or cellular phone could cause distraction for others in the classroom, especially in regards to audio. Therefore, audio must be muted, and headphones should not be used during instructional time.

Students may use their personal laptop, netbook or MID before school, at lunch, after school, or during passing periods, in hallways during passing periods, in resource areas or in other common areas of the school.  MIDS can only be used in a supervised classroom environment with expressed consent given by the classroom teacher (This excludes study hall).  If an adult asks a student to put his/her laptop, netbook or MID away because of inappropriate use during these times, the student must comply, or appropriate consequences will be assigned.

Cellular phones used for non-instructional purposes may be used as directed under Policy 7:190.

Consequences of Prohibited Use

If students refuse to comply with the above guidelines, the following consequences will apply.  Student infractions will be documented as a referral for each offense.  The consequences for these infractions are outlined below:

1st Offense = Laptop, netbook, MID or cellular phone will be confiscated until the end of the school day, when the student may retrieve it.
2nd Offense = Laptop, netbook, MID or cellular phone will be confiscated until the end of the day, when the student’s parent must retrieve it.
3rd Offense = Loss of laptop, netbook, MID or cellular phone privileges fora period of time as decided by School Administration on a case by case basis.

Laptop/Netbook/MID/Cellular Phone Security Risks
Laptops, netbooks, MIDs and cellular phones are especially vulnerable to loss and theft. Opportunistic and organized thieves will target these devices in school, on school grounds, and on buses.

To counter these risks, security will be addressed in same manner as outlined under “Student Personal Property” in the Student Handbook in addition to these steps detailed below;

Student responsibility; through increased user awareness of the risks.

Physical security; both in school, on school property, and when traveling to and from school.

Access control and authentication; do not give out login information or allow multiple users on student-owned equipment.

1.  Student Responsibility

Niles Township High Schools accept no responsibility for personal property brought to the school by students.  This includes laptop computers, netbooks, MIDs and cellular phones .  (As found in the Student Handbook under “Personal Property”)

Students who bring a laptop, netbook, MID or cellular phone to school assume total responsibility for said equipment.  Laptops, netbooks, MIDs or cellular phones that are stolen or damaged are the responsibility of the student and their parents or guardians.

Students should take all reasonable steps to protect against the theft or damage of their personal laptop, netbook, MID or cellular phone.

2.  Physical Security

Users should take the following physical security preventative measures:

1. Laptops, netbooks, MIDs and cellular phones should NEVER be left unattended for ANY period of time.  When not in use, these items should be locked in the owner’s school locker.

2. Laptop computers, netbooks, MIDs and cellular phones must not be:
      -Left unattended at any time (If a laptop, netbook, MID or cellular phone is left unattended it will be picked up by staff and turned into the Deans Office).
      -Left in view in an unattended vehicle.

3.  Access Control and Authentication
·         Students can only access the Internet and the school network via a wireless connection provided by the District and using his/her own District account.  Any student found connecting his/her laptop or netbook to the network using an Ethernet cable plugged into a wall jack will have his/her laptop or netbook confiscated and lose personal laptop access privileges.
·          No student shall knowingly gain access to, or attempt to gain access to, any computer, computer system, computer network, information storage media, or peripheral equipment without the consent of authorized school or district personnel.
·         No student shall install District-owned licensed software on their personal laptop or netbook.
·         No student shall establish a wireless Ad-hoc (peer-to-peer) network using his/her laptop or netbook while on school grounds.
·         No students shall use any computing device, including their laptop, netbook, MID or cellular phone to illegally collect any electronic data or disrupt networking services (Hacking).