Sarasota County School District considering ban on cell phones during school day

Updated: Jan. 14, 2019 at 9:19 PM EST
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SARASOTA (WWSB) - “It’s really important for Ryan to carry a cell phone, that’s our way to communicate with him and also for my wife and I to pick him up,” said Brad Beles, a parent to an 8th grade student.

Beles says he wouldn’t be happy with a complete cell phone ban in the schools but he tells us he’s ok with it being banned from the classrooms. We caught up with other parents prior to the baskeball game between Sarasota Middle and Booker Middle. Raymond Morris is a parent to Bryant and his fraternal twin, both of whom are in the seventh grade.

“They shouldn’t be used in the school, I think they need to have them, the reason my children have them is because of all the possible emergencies,” said Morris.

Some Sarasota County School board members are pushing for a ban that would prohibit any cell phone use during school regardless of their age or grade, while others would grant cell phone access based on grade level and also have an area of a school designated for cell phone use.

“I can understand not having cell phones in elementary, middle schools I’m not as clear what I think we should do,” said Caroline Zucker, Vice-Chair of the Sarasota County School Board.

Zucker says she’s in favor of high school students having access to their cell phones. Jeffrey Leaf is a retired high school and college teacher. He says he supports a ban on cell phones in the classroom.

“They get in the way and it’s very easy to see when your students aren’t paying attention, but you kind of want them to pay attention,” said Leaf.

Under the current policy, students in the school district are allowed to have cell phones but they are asked to have them powered off and concealed from view.

“I personally use my phone a lot at school, mostly for like my Spanish and all that because sometimes we need to Google Translate something really quickly.”

Sarasota County School Board members will be discussing this possible cell phone ban at a workshop next Tuesday at school district headquarters in Sarasota. The public will have a chance to voice their opinion before it’s voted on in February.

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