Schools chime in regarding Newsom’s cell phone demands

By Catherine Stachowiak

Nation wide about 77% of schools in the United States say that they prohibit cell phones at school for non-academic use, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.  

Recent comments from Governor Gavin Newsom about discouraging cell phone usage, in California schools, caused some schools to change their policies.

The Kern Valley Sun contacted local schools last week inquiring about the district’s policies regarding smart phones, and whether they planned to change policies any time soon.

Richard Rhodes, Superintendent of South Fork Union School District said that his district always had a personal cell phone policy.

He read from the district policy handbook, which says that students are not allowed to bring personal cell phones with them to school. Phones that are brought to school will be confiscated to the end of the day, on the first offence. 

The phone will be available to be picked up at the office, by the student, at the teacher’s discretion.

On the second offence a parent would be required to pick the phone up for the student. 

“That’s been our policy, for more than five years,” Rhodes said, regarding both South Fork Elementary and South Fork Middle school.

The policy of Kern High School District, which is listed online, is as follows: regarding electronic listening or recording devices, it is the students’ responsibility to make sure that all devices, including cell phones, are turned off and secure during the official school day. Use of all electronic communication devices, without prior consent of the principal, is prohibited. (E.C. 51512, 48901.5; P.C. 637.7(a)) 

According to the Kern High School District’s Student Acceptable Use Policy (AUP) Each student authorized to use District technology and their parent/guardian is required to sign an Acceptable Use Agreement indicating that they have read and understand the policies which require for district technology including, but is not limited to, computers, the District’s computer network including servers and wireless computer networking technology (wi-fi), the Internet, online learning platforms, online conferencing platforms, hotspots, email, USB drives, wireless access points (routers), tablet computers, smart phones and smart devices, telephones, cellular telephones, wearable technology, any wireless communication device including emergency radios, and/or future technological innovations, whether accessed on or off site or through District-owned or personally owned equipment or devices.  If a student uses a personally owned device to access District technology, he/she shall abide by all applicable Board policies, administrative regulations, and this Acceptable Use Agreement. Any such use of a personally owned device may subject the contents of the device and any communications sent or received on the device to disclosure pursuant to a lawful subpoena or public records request

The Kernville Union School District did not return any call or message, last week, regarding this issue.

According to other news outlets, the Los Angeles Unified School District, an 800 campus district, voted Tuesday, approving a ban on cell phones during the school day.

Florida and Indiana have been among the list of states passing laws prohibiting phones during classroom instruction. However the policies vary by district. 

Fifty percent of schools allow cell phones in the classroom when teachers allow it. Whereas 10 percent allowed cell phones in classrooms regardless of whether the teachers approved. Only 9 percent of high schools banned cell phones completely on campus as of May 23, 2024 

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