Cloquet schools to clamp down on use of electronic devices

Increased student use of electronic devices in Cloquet schools has staff and administration putting some teeth into the school's policy regarding their use.


Increased student use of electronic devices in Cloquet schools has staff and administration putting some teeth into the school's policy regarding their use.

At Monday's meeting, board members waived the traditional three readings of the new district-wide policy and moved forward to pass it before the start of the coming school year on Sept. 7.

The vote came on the heels of a presentation by District Technology Coordinator Yvette Maijala, who told board members that representatives of administration and staff met as a group this summer to look at a number of model policies.

"We haven't really had anything like this in place before," said Maijala. "We are seeing more and more use of electronic devices in the educational setting, and there has been no policy in place."

The policy group that was presented to board members for their consideration on Monday basically governs expectations for "appropriate use of existing and emerging technologies which students may possess, including but not limited to cellular phones, digital picture/video cameras and/or phones and other electronic devices capable of transmitting data or images," according to the policy statement.


Essentially, the policy mandates that cell phones and personal electronic devices be turned off and kept out of sight during instructional time and are prohibited in classrooms during the school day as well as the Media Center, testing centers and during fine arts performances. Students will also not be allowed to leave class to respond to messages received via such electronic devices.

Cell phones and other devices may, however, be used "appropriately and respectfully" before and after classes in common areas such as near lockers and in the cafeteria or outside on the school grounds.

Another key point in the policy prohibits students from photographing or videotaping other individuals at school or during school-sponsored activities without their express knowledge or consent. To that end, use of cellular phones or other personal electronic devices is strictly prohibited in locker rooms or restrooms.

"That type of activity takes it into an entirely different realm," said Assistant CHS Principal Connie Hyde. "That's when we look at getting law enforcement involved."

Hyde went on to say the one instance where use of cell phones and other electronic devices to take photos or shoot videos will be allowed is at activities considered to be in the "public arena," such

as at sporting events or public performances.

Among other points emphasized in the new policy prohibit use of electronic devices to cheat on tests or academic work, as a means of harassment, or to invade the privacy of another student. Students will not be allowed to plug their personal electronic devices into data ports on school technology equipment, nor will they be able to charge batteries for such devices utilizing the school's electricity. Audio and sound must be kept turned off, and headphones may not be used in the classroom.

The new policy also spells out specific consequences for violations. After the first infraction, a school employee will direct the student to turn off the device and it will be confiscated and turned in to the school office, where the student can retrieve it at the end of the day. Upon committing a second infraction, a parent or guardian will be notified of the inappropriate behavior and the student will be warned that a subsequent infraction will result in the termination of the student's right to possess such a device for a period of 45 school days. Any future abuses may also result in additional disciplinary action.


"A certain portion of students will keep pushing it," said Hyde, "and when that happens, it becomes insubordination, which means it then falls under the school's regular disciplinary codes."

Following discussion regarding slight amendments to the policy's language, the board unanimously adopted the new policy.

Maijala stressed that the policy regarding student use of electronic devices needs to be read and reviewed with all students at the start of the school year.

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