Despite policy, students still use mobiles - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

Despite policy, students still use mobiles

by Michele Catahay

Guam - Nowadays with the increasing use of technology, school officials are combating the growing problem of cell phones on campus.  Although the policy restricts the use of mobile phones during instructional time, students are using them anytime and anywhere.

George Washington High School Assistant Principal of Discipline Gaylene Cruz says Board Policy 406 states that cell phones can be brought on campus but can not be used in the classrooms. According to Cruz, each school follows its own standard operating procedures. For GW, students are only allowed to use them in the morning before first period, on break and lunch time and after school.

"Students are still violating these rules and when they get caught, we take action. It is becoming a challenge this year with the cell phone policy because kids will be texting other kids to say that we're heading this direction or letting us know and giving them information before we even get there. So by the time we get there, they probably disposed these items," Cruz said.

Not only is it hard for her to confiscate items, but the availability of cell phones has caused fights and threats among students.  "There was also a teacher who had a near assault with a student over cell phone during class time. It's just becoming a major distraction. Parents need to understand that the cell phones are for parents, but majority about 99% of students are not using it for parents. They're using it for other things like selling drugs, threats and all kinds of stuff. So it's becoming a major issue," explained the administrator.

The current policy allows cellular phones to be used by the students before and after the instructional day, and during lunch periods provided such devices are not displayed, activated or used in between those times. It also must be turned off or in silent mode and secured in a locker during the day and cannot be used during classtime, assemblies, during school productions or while in the restrooms or gymnasiums.

While the Guam Education Policy Board adopted the policy back in December 2007, Cruz is hoping amendments will be made as she believes phones should be banned from the campus.

GEPB Chairman Joe San Agustin says the policy was meant to allow students to contact their parents in the event of emergencies or if school let out earlier than normal, telling KUAM News, "The problem isn't really the policy, but how it's being implemented and enforced in the schools. Because some of them have a different interpretation saying, 'Well, I don't agree with this', we're not asking for you to agree with it, we're asking you to work with the policy."

San Agustin added, "If anyone is saying they're using it to alert other students that the principal is coming, well that's good. Keep them on their toes. The principals are supposed to be walking all over the place anyways."

The policy further states that disciplinary action shall be used as it relates to academic dishonesty, sexual harassment, other harassment and disruption to instruction. Cruz says such actions are difficult since she's tasked to monitor more than 2,000 students on campus.  It makes for another glaring example of the need for more school aides on a campus that's already overcrowded with students and their cell phones.

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