The use of telecommunication devices at Andover High has been causing some stir between teachers and students this year.
Here at AHS, students and teachers are at odds about using telecommunication devices (usually cell phones) in class. In the handbook, the rule against the use of telecommunication devices is that cell phones can not be used at all during instructional time, even if you are in the hallways. Any faculty member, including hall monitors, have the right to take your phone whenever you are caught using it during the instructional time.
The AHS Student Handbook states: “These devices must not be activated, used or visible during instructional time or study hall time without permission of the teacher.” Instructional time is defined as a time when class is in session. This does not include lunch time, before the homeroom bell, in between classes, and after school. However, teachers can have their own personal device policy, which must be clearly stated either verbally or in writing to their students.
Dr. Lord, principal of AHS, said he would not take a phone himself “until consulting the teacher’s personal policy.”
How safe should students feel while their phone is in a teacher’s possession? A student who trusts their teacher would feel less nervous than a student who does not trust their teacher. The handbook itself states: “The administration, faculty and staff are not responsible for any items that are lost, stolen or damaged when confiscated.” This means if a teacher has a confiscated phone, drops it and breaks it, they will be at no fault. According to various teachers at AHS, including Ms. Fisher (science teacher), Dr. Lord, and hall monitor Jennifer Desantis, the policy is fair because the student should not have had his or her phone out in the first place.
Charles DiCenzo, parent of a freshman at AHS, said that the rule is there to protect the teachers, and that if students weren’t on their phone during class, they wouldn’t have to worry about a phone being broken or stolen while in the possession of a teacher.
Students express concern about teachers going through messages, tapping into social media accounts, and invading personal lives while they have a phone in their possession.
When Vishvesh Kaul, a freshman at Andover High School, was asked about why he felt nervous during the period his teacher had his phone, he responded he “didn’t have a password,” which made it easier for teachers to go through his device. Reese Gellman, also a freshman, said she felt nervous because she didn’t have a pass-code. However, state laws do not permit anybody to go through a cell phone without consent of the owner.
Faculty members, including Fisher and Desantis, say they have never and will never go through a phone.
Freshman DeVon Beasley argued, “It’s my phone and I want it with me at all times.” However, teachers would beg to differ. They believe that school time is time for a student to learn — and not update their status.
Fisher also added, “My students know my policy: it must be off and away during class unless I grant permission.”
DiCenzo also told me, “In 20 years from now, students will hopefully have realized that preparing for a test would have been a much better idea than texting a friend about plans.”
By Travis Traub