Judge Sides With Cell Phone Ban, Parents To Appeal Decision
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The cell phone wars could go on, as parents say they may appeal the ruling of a judge who sided with the city in its ban on cell phones in public schools.
The lawsuit by eight parents claimed the Department of Education policy violates the constitutional rights of students and parents, who say cell phones are needed in case of emergencies.
Some students NY1 spoke with said they believe they should be able to have their cell phones on hand, as long as they are responsible with them.
"I really need my cell phone to get in contact with my mother because she's always calling me and I need to call her to tell her where I'm going, what I'm doing,” said one student. “And I think it's going to be a giant loss if we lose our cell phones, not because so we can talk to our friends, but for basic responsibility purposes.”
“If I take the bus in the morning they'll call me in the morning and they like for me to call them when I get out of school,” said another student.
Norman Siegel, a lead attorney in the failed parent lawsuit, could not agree more.
"We never argued for the right to use the cell phone in the classroom,” said Siegel. “What we want is for someone to be able to possess it."
But the DOE says the policy preserves a safe learning environment for students, arguing cell phones are disruptive and can be used for cheating.
The judge agreed saying the decision on whether cell phones should be permitted in schools should be left up to the DOE, and not the court.
"I said from the beginning I think the policy is sound and legal and obviously I'm pleased by the court's decision,” said School Chancellor Joel Klein.
There has been a longstanding ban on electronic devices in city schools going back to the days of beepers. Earlier this year, when the mayor repeated the specific ban on cell phones, there was a crackdown. Carrying a cell phone can still bring consequences.
"My cell phone dropped out of my pocket and fell on the floor and I put it on the table and my teacher yelled at me and took it away," said a student.
Last year, the DOE confiscated over 12,000 cell phones and returned most of them to students' parents.
In September, a pilot program at 15 schools will allow students to place their cell phones in lockers for a minimal fee, like a quarter. If it works, say school officials, they will think of doing it citywide.