BCSD CELLPHONE, BACKPACK CHANGES APPROVED FOR NEW SCHOOL YEAR

Published by The Bee News

July 9, 2024

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Bullhead City School District governing board members have approved a plan limiting students’ cellphones and backpacks when the new school year starts July 29.   

Under the new policy, student cellphones will be turned off and parked all day in locked and secure cabinets.  Backpacks will still be allowed for students in pre-kindergarten through fourth grade, but prohibited for middle and junior high students.  Cellphone restrictions are already in place elsewhere in other Mohave County and Arizona schools, and backpack limitations have increased in other parts of the country.  The local recommendations were made by a team of 16 principals, assistant principals and administrators during a wide-ranging planning session focusing on safety and instruction.

The cellphone restrictions are also designed to minimize students’ inappropriate recordings of others, whether in restrooms or fights (both of which BCSD has minimized over the past year).  Unauthorized recordings and photography of students on campus, school buses or at bus stops – whether by other students or adults – not only violates district policy, but also federal and state student privacy laws, with severe consequences.

Some students locally and nationally have used their backpacks to hide items ranging from alcohol and drugs to weapons and contraband.  Even clear backpacks are no longer a deterrent, according to other districts nationwide.  Since textbooks no longer go home, the board agreed that there is not a need for middle and junior high school students to have backpacks on campus.

The new policies will have a handful of exceptions, such as students whose cellphones are used for diabetic monitoring.

“Parents and the governing board have made it clear that classroom distractions and disruptions at the expense of improving education are unacceptable,” Superintendent Carolyn Stewart noted.  “We are continuing a multi-year investment we started with a 2023 grant to restore rigor to Bullhead City classrooms.  The investment is paying off.  Unnecessary intrusions and obstructions don’t help students.  Our top priorities have to be safety for students, staff and the community, and a quality education for everyone.”

Stewart told board members that fights stopped and discipline cases dropped after cellphone restriction pilot programs were tested at both Bullhead City Middle and Fox Creek Junior High Schools last semester.

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