School of the Arts begins cell phone ban during school hours

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Effective Monday, a local high school has started collecting students’ cell phones when they arrive at school, which are then returned to the students at the end of the day.

Officials at the School of the Arts, of the Rochester City School District, says the “cell phone collection procedure” will help “minimize school-time distractions” and “encourage positive communication.”

Parents at the school arts have mixed feelings about the new regulation.

I think it’s fantastic that instructor doesn’t have to deal with another distraction in the classroom,” said Cristian Madsen, who has children in 7th and 9th grade at the school.

“Communication is important, is something happens at the school we can’t contact our kids,” said Chasity Hernandez, who has a daughter in 9th grade.

Students today had their first taste of school without cell-phones. Shante Barkley has a child in 9th grade. She says she understands why the policy was put in place but thinks there are other options.  

“They should change the policy to where if your phone is out and you disrupting the class, that child shouldn’t be able to have their phone. And it would make it a lot easier, then all the kids won’t be in an uproar,” said Shantae Barkley, who has a child in 9th grade.

SOTA’s cell phone ban throughout the school day went into effect for the first time Monday. How does it work? The school has laid out a detailed plan:

  • Students will enter the building by their grade level. Grades 7/8 enter through Exit 13 by the gym, grades 9-12 enter through the Main Entrance according to their period 9 class.
  • After 7:25 a.m. all students will enter through the Main Entrance.
  • Students will place their phone in the envelope with their name on it; and then place the envelope into the bin marked with their Period 9 class, and proceed through to scanning.
  • Juniors and seniors who are approved for Off-Campus Lunch Privileges or Daily Early Dismissal, will place their cell phones in a bin marked accordingly. Students who go off campus for Period 8 lunch will pick up their cell phone in the foyer at the end of the school day.
  • SOTA staff will secure student cell phones in a locked location/
  • The Period 9 teachers will distribute the cell phones to students toward the end of class.
  • Students leaving for appointments will be able to obtain their cell phone upon leaving the building.

SOTA students are expected to turn their cell phone in upon every entry and if a study doesn’t follow the laid out procedure, they face consequences:

  • First time offense — The student will be escorted to the administrator, the parent/guardian will be contacted, and the student will be issued a Friday detention. The cell phone will be given to the administrator for the balance of the day,and returned to the student at the end of the school day.
  • Second time offense — The student will be escorted to the administrator, the parent/guardian will be contacted,and the student will be issued a Friday Detention. The cell phone will be given to administrator, and may only be picked-up by the parent/guardian.
  • Third time offense — The student will be escorted to the administrator, the parent/guardian will be contacted and student will be issued *C.A.R.E. for four periods the following day. The cell phone will be given to administration, and may only be picked up by the parent/guardian.
  • Multiple offenses — The Administrator will conduct a mandatory conference with the student, and parent/guardian to address the impact of the repeated cell phone offenses. Possible additional consequences may be issued.

*C.A.R.E. stands for Creating and Restoring Relationships Effectively. This program is a component of SOTA’s Restorative Practices, and is an alternative to suspension.

Check back with News 8 WROC as we will have more on this story later today with reactions from students and parents.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


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