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Ohio school board group calls new cellphone bill helpful

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(The Center Square) – Most Ohio school districts have policies that address student cellphone use, but according to the Ohio School Board Association, a new bill expected to be signed soon by Gov. Mike DeWine could be helpful.

Ohio Association of School Boards Deputy Director of Board and Management Services Kenna Haycox told The Center Square that House Bill 250 gives school boards clarity and offers options for local decisions.

“The HB250 changes provide legislative clarity around goals for cellphone policies but provide latitude for local decision-making as to how to manage student cell phone use at the district level,” Haycox said. “This assists districts in meeting the needs of all students as parameters are often different for elementary vs. high school students.”

HB250 is waiting for DeWine’s signature to become law. It unanimously passed the House and Senate last week, requiring local school boards to establish local cellphone policies rather than the state limiting use for students during the school day.

In his State of the State address in April, DeWine called on lawmakers to establish statewide cellphone restrictions.

Once signed, which DeWine is expected to do, the law will go into effect in early July.

Before HB250, the school board association recommended school boards adopt a policy that contained several points, including:

• Statement either allowing students to possess electronic communications devices while on school property or while attending school-sponsored activities on or off school property, as long as these devices are used in compliance with building regulations. Or, a statement completely prohibiting possession of electronic communications devices on school property or while attending school-sponsored activities on or off school property.

• Statement that students violating district procedures for use of electronic devices may have their device confiscated and may be subject to discipline.

• Statement that the district assumes no liability if these devices are broken, lost or stolen.

• Statement requiring the adopted policy to be posted in a central location in every school building and in the student handbooks.

Haycox said the association is working on new school guidelines based on HB250.

“I know districts around the state are already evaluating this issue for their district and reviewing current cellphone policies and practices, including handbook language, to determine what updates are helpful for the district,” Haycox said. “In my past experience working with districts, most districts I work with address student cell use in either board policy, student handbooks, or both.”

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