D118 school board talks student cell phone usage | News
DANVILLE — Danville School District 118 Assistant Superintendent of Secondary Education Beth Yacobi said the big discussion this year for the Ownership in Education handbook for students was cell phones.
Yacobi said parents and staff, through a survey and meetings, were at opposite ends on viewpoints on students having cell phones in schools. Parents want their children to have access to cell phones all day, while teachers don’t.
The Danville District 118 School Board Wednesday night had a first reading of handbook changes.
The Ownership in Education committee still recommends “cell phones may be carried but must be ‘out of sight and may not be utilized during the school day.’”
Yacobi said cell phones should not be used during classroom, teaching time.
She said parents have said having their children have their cell phones with them makes them feel safe.
Yacobi said they don’t want cell phones to be a disruption.
The cell phone usage definition is being updated to reflect students who record audio or video of violent behaviors may be considered “inciting others to violence” and subject to discipline.
Yacobi said students are using cell phones to video tape fights and airdropping/sharing the video to other students in the school.
Students who refuse to follow cell phone usage rules may be subject to “insubordination” and its consequences.
Consequences are being updated for cell phone usage for grades 7-12.
The school district also is putting together a cell phone contract for students and parents to sign, which Champaign and other school districts use.
School board member Chris Easton asked if the school district could send emergency alerts to students’ cell phones, such as regarding an active shooter.
Yacobi said the school district already has that capability, through CrisisGo, but is only using it for staff right now. She said they need to revisit and reutilize it for students.
Yacobi said D118 doesn’t really have issues with students using cell phones until starting with fifth and sixth grade.
She said there are a lot more issues in 7th through 12th grades.
A first offense is a verbal warning, conference and students are asked to put their cell phones away, she said, adding that students who refuse are considered insubordinate.
A second offense results in phone confiscation and a call home. Repeated offenses are taken case by case for discipline, she said.
“We need all of our families to support us,” Yacobi said.
If students can’t regulate using their cell phone at school, they should keep their cell phone at home, she said.
Time out and physical restraint also was updated in the OIE handbook with language stating, “The district is committed to utilizing proactive and positive interventions prior to any instance of physical restraint or time out.”
Assault and battery was removed from examples of disciplinary infractions as it is a criminal law term. Schools reflect violent attacks as a physical attack with or without injury. A student’s discipline record can indicate a police interaction resulted in an arrest for assault/battery.
The board will act on the OIE handbook changes next month.
The board Wednesday also heard from Tierra Brown, a former North Ridge Middle School employee and with the Ubuntu mentoring program, that more work needs to done to make changes at the school about teacher behavior and those not there for their students.
In other business, the board: had a first reading on restraint, time out and isolated time out reduction plan; had a first reading on a new career-focused theater arts DHS elective course starting in 2023-2024; approved purchasing Flyleaf Decodable reader phonics books for $83,860 for third and fourth graders to help with learning loss from the pandemic; changed extra-curricular stipends that will cost about an initial $50,000 for the first year; approved a $104,500 contract with Gateway Family Services for social emotional learning opportunities for North Ridge Middle School; approved tenured staff can be evaluated every three years if given proficient or excellent rating; summer school hourly rate compensation for administrators; approved a $57,750 contract with Clifton Larson Allen LLP, a 5.5 percent increase due to new procedures, cyber security technology fee and additional hours due to D118’s COVID-19 funding, for auditing services; allowed a change with the Bremer Trust and First Presbyterian Church selecting a scholarship recipient and not the DHS principal; and approved East Central Illinois Community Action Agency summer tutoring service at no extra cost.