RIT journalism student Erin Supinka talks to Michael Leiner, Assistant Principal at Brighton High School about that school's policy on personal electronics and how it affects discipline.
With technological advances and increasing numbers of students owning cellphones, school districts have had to begun to reevaluate or reinforce their current policy with stricter policies. With such constantly changing technology, is it becoming a waste of time for schools to constantly addressing changes and fighting a, seemingly, lost battle?
In comparison to other issues, like bullying, a student’s use of a cellphone during class is really insignificant. Instead of wasting the energy and time of school officials to change and enforce the electronics policies, why not begin to embrace the different gadgets and incorporate them into the classroom?
Students at Brighton High School are allowed to carry cellphones with them on school grounds. The devices also do not need to be locked in a student’s locker at the beginning of the day.
Brighton’s Code of Conduct states that electronic devices are not allowed to be used to: invade privacy, disrupt the academic setting or engage in any academic dishonesty. Of course, the code reminds students that bringing these devices on campus mean they are responsible for their “safe-keeping.”
Seemingly vague, the code actually leaves room for more freedom with electronic devices, specifically cellphones, than most other schools.
Students are actually allowed to use their cellphones in classrooms when it is appropriate, says assistant principal Michael Leiner.
“They can be used when it is constructive to the classroom, like fact checking. It’s good when students can look information up and contribute.,” said Leiner in a phone interview. The students also are allowed to use their cellphones in lunch and hallways
As assistant principal to Brighton High School, he also oversees disciplinary actions of 1/3 of the students. With the freedom the school’s policy provides, he sees very few cases of inappropriate use for cellphones.
“It’s just not on list of big issues we see when it comes to disciplinary problems and students making the wrong decisions,” he said.
With this approach to technology, the issue with abuse doesn’t seem to be a problem, allowing the student to use their phones takes away the thrill of doing it on the sly. Maybe then they will only use the phone when it’s needed or beneficial.
With this approach so successful on cutting down on disciplinary actions needed, it seems silly that other schools still remain so strict with their policies.
Similar to other schools, Brighton does not allow texting in class or using the phone to cheat on tests. If students are caught using the phones, they are subjected disciplinary action that could be anything from losing the phone to being suspended, depending on the severity of the disruption.
Read More: Brighton | Education | RITjourno | Schools and Technology