Parents, students sound off about cell phones in Norfolk schools

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Students, parents and teachers stepped up to the podium to fight for cell phones in Norfolk Public Schools.

“There wasn`t a single person who spoke in support of this policy tonight and it’s clear that the students, the parents the teachers all do not support this policy. And it`s a squandering of the school budget to have security officers diverted from more important things to be searching students backpacks looking for phones,” says Eileen Ridge, a parent.

After several calls from concerned parents, the school board is considering a change in a policy that bans all student phones in the school system.

Eileen Ridge’s daughter, Rachel is a student at Ruffner Academy.   She’s a good kid, but every day she breaks a school rule.

“She’s a straight-A student.  She should not be taught that the appropriate thing is to break school rules, and that’s what you`re teaching these kids because people need to get in touch with their families, students and parents need to have contact,” says Ridge.

Rachel isn’t talking or texting in class. She keeps her cell phone turned off in her back pack.  As the rule stands, a security officer can search her bag, and if they find her phone, they can take it away.

“As long as it is off in your backpack, you`re not using it, except in a dire emergency then you should not have to be penalized by searches and having it taken away when it was never a distraction in the first place,” says Rachel

Last year, Rachel pulled out her cell and called her mom twice; once because her bus got into an accident and another time because there was a bomb threat at her school. Eileen was relieved she broke the rules.

“Frankly, students’ safety is concerned, and their parents want to know what’s going on,” says Eileen.

These are the types of stories parents hope will change the policy.

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