Sunday, September 5, 2004

Fairfield may revise cell-phone policy

By Sue Kiesewetter
Enquirer contributor

FAIRFIELD - The Fairfield Schools may join other Greater Cincinnati schools that allow cell phones on school property - but not in the classrooms.

Fairfield's seven-year-old ban on cell phones and other electronic devices is under review, in part, because of the cancellation of busing for students in grades 9-12 and the problems it's causing for families trying to arrange pick-up points.

Currently, the policy prohibits students from having cell phones on school property or at school-sponsored events. But educators say they have seen students trying to find their parents who have been tied up in 30-minute traffic jams around school property since busing was cut in a budget move.

"For us, right now, it makes sense to allow them because of the busing situation,'' said Superintendent Robert Farrell.

Like Fairfield, Edgewood Schools eliminated high school busing this year and have traffic woes. But a year ago, that district changed its policy banning them on school grounds. Now, students may bring cell phones to school - but they must be left in lockers during the school day and used only before or after class.

The same is true in the Franklin and Three Rivers schools where high school busing was also cut for budgetary reasons

"The only purpose they (cell phones) could serve during the school day would be a disruptive one,'' said Marshall Brumback, principal at Taylor High School in the Three Rivers district.

After school, though, is different. "In today's society, they're going to have them. Their parents want them to have them,'' said Jeff Dennis, Edgewood's assistant high school principal.

Fairfield parent Kim Hargrave agrees. Despite the ban, she told her 15-year-old son to carry his cell phone to school and use it if necessary.

"He never took it to school before. I did give him permission,'' Hargrave said. "It stays in the backpack during school It was a necessity with the busing situation."

Fairfield board members may decide Sept. 16 to amend its policy so that the phones and other devices could be used before or after school only.

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