East Texas schools continue cell-phone battle

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - By Holley Nees - email

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - It's a battle every school year.

"Very seldom a day goes by with 2,200 kids that somebody's phone is not being taken up," Lufkin High Principal Mark Smith said.

At Lufkin High School, often, 10 phones a day are collected and students have to pay a fee or work to get them back.

"A lot of times kids will get their phones taken up and walk to my office holding $15," Smith said.

But parents can restrict their student's phone use during school hours with the "Smart Limit" program.

"Nothing can go outbound during that period, so as far as, you know, they can't send text messages, they can't make phone calls, nothing that goes outbound on the network, they can only receive," said Courtney Blanton of Best Buy.

Many parents say although cell phones can be helpful, they worry it will keep their children from focusing.

"You know you need to pay attention to your professor, your teacher and then the cell phone later," parent Gabriella Roberts said.

"I think that cell phones are okay for these kids to have in school if they're calling their parents with a problem, if they're calling them to come pick them up, that sort of thing," parent Donna Oneal said. "I don't think they should be texting during class."

Lufkin ISD says their policy is that no cell phones can be visible in the classroom unless it's for educational purposes."

"We encourage kids and teachers to use technology, you know, our battle we fight is the difference between the use of technology for educational purposes and then texting a friend or a parent," Smith said.

Students say they're aware phones can take away from their learning experience, but it's tough to go without them.

"What if you like need to call your mom or something and you get hurt and you can't like use the other phones because they won't dial the cell phones," said Taylor Andrews, a student.

"I think that cell phones should not be used in class because you can be texted answers and cheat on tests and everything," said Megan Scogin, a student.

Educators say it's always a challenge to remove the distraction from students' hands.

Nacogdoches ISD shares a similar policy with Lufkin: cell phones should be off and out of sight during the school day.

Students are instructed to go to the office to make calls home.

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