When spring break ends Monday, students at all three Catoosa County high schools will be allowed to use cell phones during class changes and lunch.
Until now, students haven’t been allowed to use cell phones at school and, if they were found using them, the phones were confiscated.
The change comes under a pilot program initiated by Heritage High School Principal Ronnie Bradford.
He proposed the pilot program because students have good reasons to call and text — when they’re not in class, he said. For example, they contact parents to make afters-chool plans and arrange care for younger siblings, he said.
At least one Heritage teacher texts assignments and reminders to students, Bradford said.
“The kids that were having [cell phones] taken up were using them for legitimate reasons.” Bradford said. “They’re doing everyday things that they need to do.”
Three or four Heritage students have their phones taken away each day out of a student body of 1,300, Bradford said. Confiscated phones can only be retrieved by parents or guardians.
If the pilot program of limited cell phone use is a success, it will become official policy next school year, he said.
Bradford said principals at Ringgold and Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe high schools favored the pilot program when he proposed it.
“In 2012, it just makes sense for them to be able to use their phones,” Ringgold High Principal Sharron Vaughn said. “We’re going to trust [students] now to use them as a communication tool.”
One example of positive cell phone use is students hearing good news about hospitalized relatives, she said.
“Then they can relax and do better in class,” Vaughn said.
Tim Omarzu covers education for the Times Free Press. Omarzu is a longtime journalist who has worked as a reporter and editor at daily and weekly newspapers in Michigan, Nevada and California.