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Martinsville’s cell phone policy is causing parents concern



Martinsville, Indiana – One week into the new school year, some parents are having second thoughts about the Martinsville Metropolitan School District’s new cell phone policy.

Students must leave their phones in their lockers until the end of the school day because they are not permitted to use them in the classroom.

“My success teacher saw it in my pocket and I got in trouble,” said Wiatt Byington, an 8th grader at John R. Wooden Middle School.

The policy was approved by the board in July. Tabitha Maxwell, Wiatt’s mother, didn’t learn about it until August 14.

“After the school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, where the students were able to update their parents, call 911, update authorities on where the shooter was, and check in with their peers, I don’t understand why you would take that away from a child,” said Maxwell.

2015 saw the implementation of a similar policy at Bell Intermediate Academy, which serves fifth and sixth graders. Students at Martinsville High School are required to put their phones in a specific spot in each classroom.

“Keeping students engaged and learning throughout the school day is just part of the push to keep cell phones out of the classroom. Bullying through social media, inappropriate recording of other students, and video-chatting has negatively impacted schools due to the past availability of cell phones,” said Eric Bowlen, superintendent of the Metropolitan School District of Martinsville.

“I don’t disagree. It is a distraction, but I don’t see how having it physically on them in a classroom causes that distraction. Just have a firm set of rules about having it out, and follow those rules,” said Maxwell.

Maxwell circulated an online petition protesting the policy. She believes having a phone nearby could save a child’s life in case of a school shooting.

“I don’t want to think about losing my child. I don’t want to think about anyone losing their child, but that’s the world we live in now. If the only thing I get is the ability to say I love you and goodbye, I want it,” said Maxwell.

In case of an emergency, the school district claimed that classrooms are set up with phones and an intercom system. Additionally, employees and students are receiving training on the safety app ALICE.

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