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franklin county times

Meridian schools may stiffen
policy banning cell phones

By Staff
ANSWERING THE CALL Brittany Turner, front left, and Mateira Matthews, right, talk on cell phones during a summer school class at Meridian High School last week. Meridian School Superintendent Sylvia Autry said she wants to stiffen the school district's ban on cell phones by suspending students who are caught possessing one in class. PHOTO ILLUSTRATION BY KYLE CARTER / THE MERIDIAN STAR
By Georgia E. Frye / staff writer
June 21, 2004
Brittany Turner, who will be a senior this fall at Meridian High School, said she needs to take her cell phone with her to school every day in case of an emergency.
But Meridian School Superintendent Sylvia Autry has a different take: She wants the Meridian School Board this summer to stiffen the school district ban on cell phones by suspending students who bring them to class.
Autry said she fears students could use the cells phones as a way to cheat on tests. Or, she said, she worries students could use cell phones equipped with digital cameras to take inappropriate pictures.
Autry is not alone in her concerns. In Lamar County in South Mississippi, the school board recently adopted a policy to suspend students from school if they bring cell phones to class.
The problem: Oak Grove High School Principal Wayne Folkes said he caught some students using cell phones equipped with cameras to take pictures of tests they were taking in class.
In Lauderdale County public schools, Superintendent David Little said he doesn't see a problem with students having cell phones at school as long as they don't ring in the classroom.
Little said he believes that students are mostly honest. If students try to cheat by using a cell phone, Little said, then it is up to the teacher to catch them in the act.
In Meridian public schools, the student handbook lists a policy that has been in place for several years prohibiting students from possessing pagers, cell phones and other electronic devices.
If a student at any of Meridian's 13 public schools are caught with a pager, cell phone or other electronic device, it is taken away and the parents have to go to the school to pick it up.
But Autry said the policy is not strong enough. She said threatening students with suspension is a stronger policy.