Sioux City – The Sioux City School District leadership said the implementation of the district’s new cell phone policy has been successful, with many positive comments.
It really makes a difference,” said Associate Director Angela Bemus.
Bemus, Director of Elementary Education Brian Burnight and Director of Secondary Education Jim Vanderloo shared the positive results of the policy during Monday’s school board meeting.
In July, the school board approved a more restrictive mobile phone policy after surveying the district’s conduct. The policy is different for elementary, middle, and high school students.
At the elementary level, students are not allowed any type of cell phone, smart watch, or headphone during the school day. At the middle school level, students are not allowed to use the same devices during the day. If they have good behavior, the principal can decide to allow devices during non-tutoring time.
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At the high school level, students are allowed to use their devices during non-teaching time, such as pass periods, lunch, and before or after school.
On the first day of school, temporary superintendent Rod Erlewin visited high school students about politics, and many students shared their dislike of the policy.
Bemus said it has received many positive comments from parents and teachers regarding the policy, and thanked the district for implementing it. She said there had been a few negative reactions.
Two cases from the student’s perspective were also shared. In one case, she said a student realized he needed to change the math class because it was too easy. They said they hadn’t focused in class before, and the phone policy made them pay attention.
In another case, she said a high school student wasn’t abiding by their cell phone policy, so the principal called their father. She said this was an opportunity to build the relationship between the parents and the building management.
In high school, Vanderloo said there were adjustments such as changes to the no-headphone policy. He said after receiving input from teachers, the district purchased enough wired headphones for all the educational needs of high school students.
He said teachers and students thank the administration for the policy because it forces students to talk to students around them in class, lunch, and in the hallway.
“It shows we’re doing the right thing,” he said.
The rule-breaking system varies according to the number of offenses students commit. In the first and second offense they are verbally redirected and call their parents, if they do not cooperate; They are given a one-day hold.
For the third offense, they are given a day of suspension from school or a two-day suspension if they do not cooperate. For the fourth offense they are given three days of suspension and for the fifth offense; They will receive a five-day suspension at Sioux City Alternative School.
At the high school level, Bemus said, there were about 500 students who committed the first offense and were redirected by teachers. She said there were only about 50 students in each school who were non-compliant, which means they argued with the teacher and were suspended for a day.
“We only had to redirect 500 out of three high schools, we’re talking about 5,000 students, which is amazing,” Bemus said.
She said there weren’t many repeat offenders.
At the primary level, Burnett said there were four students who were redirected by teachers, and only one student argued and was non-compliant.
Bemus said this policy will reflect positively on standardized testing at the end of the year.