New York City

NYC to lift ban on student cellphones in schools

January 7, 2015 By Karen Matthews, Jonathan Lemire Associated Press
NYC schools chancellor Carmen Fariña. AP file photo
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Mayor Bill de Blasio is set to lift a longtime ban on cellphones in New York City public schools, fulfilling a promise he made during his 2013 mayoral campaign.

Administration officials said de Blasio planned to announce the policy change Wednesday afternoon in a news conference at Brooklyn’s High School of Telecommunication Arts and Technology. The new policy is expected to go into effect March 2.

The rule requiring cellphones and electronic devices like iPads to be left at home was put in place by former Mayor Michael Bloomberg but has never been enforced consistently.

At schools without metal detectors, many students bring phones and keep them stowed in their backpacks.

But most schools in the 88 buildings with metal detectors enforce the ban, and some students at those schools pay $1 a day to store their phones in a van or at a local business.

High school sophomore Jessica Flores dropped her phone off at a van parked in front of the Washington Irving campus in Manhattan on Wednesday and said she would be “really happy” to see the ban end. Junior Arthur Mosley said, “We’re wasting money every day.”

The ban has long been unpopular with parents including de Blasio, who has acknowledged that his own son, Dante, brings a phone to Brooklyn Technical High School.

Mona Davids, president of the New York City Parents Union, said she welcomed the change in policy. “As parents, we will feel more comfortable knowing we can keep in contact with our children while they are commuting to school,” Davids said.

Under the new rules, principals and teachers will decide how to handle cellphones in schools.

Critics of phones in schools have cited concerns about cheating, theft and the risk of students using their phones to summon a crowd for a fight.

Ernest Logan, the head of the Council of School Supervisors and Administrators, said in a statement, “Our collective priority is educating students in a safe and secure environment. We hope these new policies do not undermine that goal.”

Sam Pirozzolo, vice president of the New York City Parents Union and member of Community Education Council 31, said,  “I have long advocated for the overturning of the cellphone ban.  Cellphones keep our children safer, and I am pleased that Mayor de Blasio has the wisdom to lift the ban and give all of New York City’s public school children the same privilege as his son, who Mayor de Blasio has admitted takes his phone to school every day.”

Pirozzolo, who served as president of Community Education Council 31 in Staten Island for seven years, added, “Furthermore, lifting the ban will relieve many parents of the additional financial burden of placing these devices with outside cellphone storage truck vendors.”  


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