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GASD discusses cellphones in high school

Saying they were often disruptive, the Gettysburg Area School District (GASD) Policy Committee has proposed a draft policy that would limit the use of electronic devices in the high school to educational endeavors.

The policy, which would provide tools for potential discipline by administrators, would become part of the student handbook and would make the high school policy match more closely with the current policy at the middle school. The new policy would take effect next fall.

girl in black t-shirt writing on white paper

“We want to make sure we’re mitigating against improper use,” said District Superintendent Jason Perrin. “This policy strengthens our administrators’ ability to deal with those types of things.”

High school principal Jeremy Lusk said high school was different from middle school and that cellphones were “part of life.” He said the policies would primarily deal with the use of phones in hallways and in the cafeteria and that in the classroom the current rule was “stow your phones.”

“There’s all kinds of good and all kinds of bad coming from cell phones. Students are interacting with the world socially. I don’t know if a nuclear option is the best option,” he said. Lusk said teachers frequently use their phones to share what’s happening in the schools on social media. 

Board member Tim Seigman said he was concerned about administrative overreach for students who needed to occasionally use their phones for valid reasons such as a diabetes check or answering a text from parents. He asked the district to take a middle ground.

Board member Ryan Morris said he was in favor of a strict policy and that students who need to use a cell phone in an emergency situation could do so at the principal’s office. Morris said he thought imposing rules was important and that the district was too lenient. “Our job is to teach them in this environment. I have five kids in this school system, two of which are in middle school. The stuff that has come in my home through these cell phones is ridiculous. I want action,” he said. “We have to teach these kids to go out in society and be members of society and deal with rules.”

Board member Michelle Smyers noted that alerts are constantly being sent to childrens’ phones.

Board member AmyBeth Hodges said she was forced to “reprogram” students who were used to using their phones at school when they were hired at her business. “I have to completely retrain them that the phone is not OK at work,” she said. 

The policy will be reconsidered at the next board meeting on April 4.

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Charles Stangor is Gettysburg Connection's Publisher and Editor in Chief.

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