Cape schools implement new cell phone policy

By Crystal Britt - bio | email

CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KFVS) - With a new school year comes some new rules.
This year the Cape Girardeau school district has some new guidelines on cell phone usage.
Administrators say the old policy didn't work.  The new one is pretty strict, and it's coming with some opposition.
Students district wide have some choices, leave the phone in their car, in their locker, or flat out leave it at home.
School leaders say phones in school have become the ultimate distraction and a form of cheating.
Students breaking the rules will find themselves in some serious trouble.
"I like to have my phone with me at all times, so it's kinda hard," said sophomore Lauren Dumey. 
Students are making the adjustment.
"You don't want to get caught," said Dumey.
Administrators at the Cape Girardeau School District say they had to do something. 
"The number of phones are increasing, the number of incidents was definitely increasing, so we realized we needed to take a more firm response," said Dr. Mike Cowan, Cape Central High School principal.
Cowan says the old phone policy didn't cut it.  Students would have their phone temporarily taken away and maybe get an after school detention.
But, now... "If we hear it or see it we take it," said Cowan. 
On the first offense, the student's parent or guardian has to come to the school and pick up the phone.
"No one wants their parents to pick up their phone," said Senior Bob Howard. 
"When the parent comes to reclaim the phone, we give them another copy of the policy to make sure due process is served and everyone is aware," said Cowan. 
"I think the consequences are pretty harsh," said Senior Dominique Jones. 
On the second offense, the phone is locked in the school office for five days.
After that a parent can come get it.
"It's private property," said parent Ramona Harty. "It belongs to them, belongs to me...I pay for that."
"Please understand before we implemented the policy we did run it by our attorneys so it's fully legal that we can hold the property," Dr. Cowan said. 
Get caught a third time and face in school suspension.
On the fourth time, students are looking at an out of school suspension.
It's definitely an attention getter.
"On the surface, I understand it," said Ramona Harty. "I don't agree with every aspect of the it. I like to be able to get ahold of my child." 
"I understand the reason, to cut down on cheating...because teachers have caught people. I know last year people got caught," said Bob Howard.
"I think it's actually a good thing," said Lauren Dumey. 
"I agree with taking the phone away," said parent Jean Diemer.
She says she would feel the same way, even if her daughter was the student facing the consequences.
"She knows the rule, if she breaks it she will have her phone taken away," said Diemer.
Wednesday marked the fifth day of school in the Cape Girardeau School District.
Dr. Cowan says so far, they've had a few phone incidents at the high school already.  No one though on their second offense.
Other local school districts are also reportedly implementing similar policies.

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