JBHS cell-phone idea a tough call

Molly Shore

Andrea Gomez doesn’t like to be far from her cell phone. The John

Burroughs High School senior admits she ignores a school district

policy that prohibits use of cell phones and other electronic


communication devices between 8 a.m. and 3 p.m.

“I often call friends or family to pick me up from school,” said

Gomez, 17. “One time, a teacher caught me using it in class.”

Burroughs High photography instructor Tim Brehm says the


7-month-old policy is unrealistic, and has asked the school board to

consider changing the rules.

Brehm, who addressed the board at its Thursday meeting, is

proposing that students be allowed to use their cell phones during

their morning nutrition breaks and at lunchtime. He said that by

relaxing the restrictions, students would not be tempted to talk or

send text messages during class.

“I do recognize that when students have break time or lunch time,


yakking away on a cell phone is really their right,” Brehm said.

But board President Trish Burnett and board member Dave Kemp

contend students don’t need to have their cell phones on while they

are in school.

“Are we going to reward their defiance of the policy by changing

the policy?” Burnett asked.

Burroughs High School Principal Emilio Urioste is opposed to

Brehm’s proposal, saying he has not witnessed any violation of the


policy during daily classroom visits.

“They know better than that,” Urioste said. “The bottom line is,

if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

Burbank High Principal Bruce Osgood could not be reached for

comment, but in a letter to board members, Brehm says Osgood

“concurs” with the proposal.

Board members Connie Lackey and Ted Bunch said they support a

policy change.

“I think [Brehm] brought up an issue whose time has come,” Lackey

said. “Cell-phone usage has the potential to be extremely destructive

during classroom time.”

Lackey said she would like to receive input from parents and

teachers at elementary schools, middle schools and high schools

before any changes are made.

Hank Jannace, the district’s director of pupil services, said he

and Alexis Sheehy, assistant superintendent for instructional

services, will meet with administrators at every school in the

district to see if cell-phone use among students has created


“We need to take a hard look before we [consider] changes,”

Jannace said.

Andrea said she favors a policy change.

“I think it’s a good idea, because more students will obey the new

policy if they can use phones at certain times during the school

day,” she said.