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posted: 8/15/2014 5:30 AM

Glen Ellyn district sets new rules on student cellphones, tablets

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By Safiya Merchant
smerchant@dailyherald.com

Despite some concerns from parents, the Glen Ellyn Elementary District 41 board has agreed to limit how students can use personal devices such as cellphones and tablets in school.

The policy comes after students were caught viewing pornography at school earlier this year.

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A fourth-grader and two fifth-graders at Forest Glen Elementary School watched pornographic material on a mobile device while on the school playground.

Also, officials said an inappropriate website was accessed by two of these students on a classroom computer.

"We discuss policy all of the time but this issue brought a greater spotlight on it," Superintendent Paul Gordon said.

Some parents at this week's school board meeting expressed concerns about allowing students in grades 6-8 to carry digital devices with them.

"I really am very concerned about the idea that they can carry it on their person at any time," Parent Angel Oakley said.

The board voted 4-1 to approve the new policy; two board members were absent.

It states elementary school students will not be able to use their personal devices during school hours, and during these times, devices will have to be turned off and have to be stowed away.

For students in grades 6-8, personal technology will be allowed so long as it is turned off and is "non-disruptive." These students can carry their devices on them.

However, for these latter three grades, the personal devices can be used for academic purposes by students "with direct guidance from teachers," according to board documents.

"When we talked to the board initially when we first read the procedure, it was pretty unanimous on the board that they wanted two different levels, that they wanted to acknowledge that older kids would react differently than younger kids with technology," board member Dean Elger said.

Parents of all students may apply for waivers for medical or academic reasons to use personal devices during the school day.

School board President John Kenwood, who cast the sole dissenting vote, said he didn't like the idea of students in grades 6-8 using cellphones.

"That cellphone, I mean, the reality is it is the biggest disrupter: it is Instagram, it's Facebook, it's all that stuff that really has no value."

Another portion of the technology policy still needs school board approval, which will come at a later date.

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