The Wallingford Board of Education has approved a new policy on student use of electronic devices, including cell phones. It will go into effect by the end of October, Assistant Superintendent Carrie LaTorre said. In the meantime, staff will prepare students for the changes and determine what will happen if they violate the policy.
This makes good sense. What to do about regulating the use of electronic devices in school is an issue for just about every school district in the country, and it makes sense that the rules and guidelines be as clear as possible to all involved.
The policy spells out where and when students at each school level may have and use electronic devices during the school day — including cell phones, smart watches, video recording devices, personal digital assistants, iPods, iPads and laptop and tablet computers.
The policy is more restrictive for the lower grades, with more use allowed in the high schools.
The school board vote was far from unanimous, though: 5-3, with one member out. In part this reflects differences over the use of technology by special education students, who could be granted permission if device use is part of the student's Individualized Education Plan (IEP) or 504 plan.
There was concern about safeguarding the identity of special education students who are allowed to use technology when others are not. Tammy Raccio, who voted against the policy, also feared that some special education students who don’t want to self-identify may go without technology that would help them.
However, board member Mike Votto, who voted for the policy, said teachers can use discretion on device use, just as they would do in other matters.
Board member Kathy Castelli, who voted for the policy, allowed that it will be “a difficult policy to adhere to” in every aspect, but said it clearly expresses the intent of the board.
On balance, it seems reasonable to believe that Wallingford’s able school administrators can work with this policy and that it will be applied, not with an iron fist, but with good sense.