LAKE CHARLES, La. (KPLC) - Cell phones will now be allowed on campus and in classrooms at Sam Houston High School.
“The phones are not to be operational or in use during the school day. Which means if the phone dings, vibrates, if the student is caught on the phone, the student’s phone gets taken and they get punished for it," Sam Houston teacher Theresa Stephenson said.
Under the current no-cell phone policy, students are being punished pretty often. At Sam Houston alone, they’re reporting 1,023 school days have been lost in the past five years due to time spent in in-school isolation for cell phone violations.
“That’s time that they can’t get back. We’re trying to keep the kids in the classroom learning as best as possible. If we can change the policy, tweak the policy, in some sort of way to embrace this technology and utilize it to better their education and keep them in the classroom, then that’s what we need to do, that’s our purpose as educators," Stephenson said.
Now, the high school is piloting the “bring your own device” program. This will allow students to use their phones in class for instructional purposes.
“They can study, they can do research through Gale resources. All of these are already in place, already paid for. So, we’re just trying to tap into that and allow students to have access to that during classroom time," Stephenson said.
They’ll enforce rules for in-class by following a stoplight system. Red light would mean phones off and face down on their desk, yellow light means phones on but face down on the desk and green means phones can be used.
It will also allow cell phone use during passing periods and at lunch— sparking some concern from some Calcasieu Parish School Board members.
“Part of being in school is socializing with your classmates and they’re not going to be socializing, they’re going to be tweeting to whoever the famous person is to tweet to right now, that’s my only concern," Eric Tarver, school board member, said.
Stephenson said that shouldn’t be an issue. “Once we teach them digital citizenship, and how to use their phone respectfully, that they’ll embrace this freedom we’re giving them and they’ll respect that, they’ll utilize their free time so they have less temptations in the classroom."
Sam Houston High School is the only school in Calcasieu Parish that will participate in this pilot program during the upcoming school year. After nine weeks, they’ll provide updates to school board members and decide if any changes need to be made.