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Cell phone survey is under way

By Trina Trice

Parents can share their views on cell phones in a survey posted on the school system's Web site until Friday.

A brief survey has been created and posted on a Web site concerning students' use of cell phones.

The poll ends Friday.

The survey was the brainchild of Clayton County Board of Education member LaToya Walker who suggested the method because the board had a hard time agreeing on what the policy should be.

Board member Ericka Davis said about students having cell phones, "No one is actually for having people with pagers and cell phones, but for cheerleading, band practice and after school (events), when those activities are going long."

Davis suggested that school administrators allow students the use of their cell phones after 3:30 p.m. when the regular school day is over.

Board Chairwoman Nedra Ware isn't keen on the idea of students walking around with cell phones, though.

Ware teaches at a Fulton County school.

"As an educator, how do we regulate and make sure that when we say you can use it until a certain time (that students will obey)?," she asked board members at a recent board meeting. "I don't know if we're opening a Pandora's box. I would not want a pager or a phone going off in the classroom."

Discussion of cell phones began at the school board's August meeting due to the new law that was passed earlier this year by the Georgia legislature. The law allows individual school systems to set its own policy regarding cell phone usage by students at their respective schools.

"Cell phones by students in Clayton County are currently banned from school property, and, if detected, will be confiscated by school officials," said Jerry Jackson, school spokesman. "Only students with prior approval due to health concerns are permitted to use cell phones on school property."

Krystle Randolph, student at North Clayton High School, would like the board to let students carry cell phones.

Randolph is an active student, having to stay after school often for BETA Club, National Honor Society, Student Council and tennis practice.

"I think they should make it so that as long as (students) don't use them in the classroom, they can have phones on them," the senior said.

Randolph points out that oftentimes students aren't allowed to use the phone in the office.

"It costs 50 cents to use a pay phone and that's expensive (considering) how much parents have to pay now," she said.

After Friday the board is using the results to help determine what its policy would be.

"We are taking a look at groups that will be affected should the current policy be altered in any way," Jackson said. "There are certain groups, such as classroom teachers and students, that will be disturbed when cell phones accidentally or purposely ring during classroom learning time."

Teachers, Clayton County residents, and students can also participate in the survey.