Expensive personal electronics irk teachers Cloquet Schools revisit policy on stolen propertyAll the snazzy cell phones, funky iPods, and other expensive gadgets that make their way to schools may mean fancy fun for students, but they spell nothing but headaches for Cloquet teachers, and a new policy is in the works to tackle the issue.
By: Wendy Johnson, Pine Journal
All the snazzy cell phones, funky iPods, and other expensive gadgets that make their way to schools may mean fancy fun for students, but they spell nothing but headaches for Cloquet teachers, and a new policy is in the works to tackle the issue.
During the school board’s working session Monday, Cloquet Middle School Principal Tom Brenner said teachers have had to confiscate “thousands and thousands of electronic devices over the years. It’s a huge problem.”
Currently, items deemed disruptive to learning can be confiscated during the school day and students are informed when and where they can be picked up.
The board has long had a policy for students to leave valuables at home and that personal items are the responsibility of the student. Last year, however, a middle school student’s family asked to be reimbursed for an iTouch (portable music player/computer) that was stolen from a teacher after it was confiscated from the student.
Legally, the school district cannot make payments to individuals, though in this case the family was reimbursed with insurance money. But the situation caused the school board to revisit the policy and craft a new one.
The Cloquet School Board will vote on the new policy at the Nov. 9 regular board meeting, which will discuss how confiscated items should be handled. The new policy says that items should be turned into the main office “as soon as the authorized school employee is reasonably able to do so.” Most teachers do not have locks on their desks to secure items.
Up for discussion was whether the school employee should be required to reimburse the student or student’s family “if reasonable care has not been taken to secure the item” while in the possession of the employee.
“It just doesn’t make sense for teachers to be held responsible if the district isn’t held responsible,” said elementary teacher Cathy Schroeder.
Brenner said discussions with his staff revealed that they just won’t take [the banned item]. “And if you give it to me, I won’t take it either,” he added. “I don’t want to be held responsible for a $300 item.”
During the regular meeting the board unanimously agreed that school employees should not be responsible for reimbursement of stolen or lost confiscated items.
“If someone brings something to school and loses it or it’s stolen out of a locker… we can’t pay for all that stuff,” said Superintendent Ken Scarbrough. “That would buy quite a few workbooks for a classroom.”
In other business, the enrollment report provided to the board showed another increase in students—2,401 district-wide. Board chair Gary Huard remarked that “it’s getting bigger every week.”