TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: NYC School Cell Phone Solution Sought

NYC School Cell Phone Solution Sought

Nahal Toosi, AP (
Wed, 03 Jan 2007 15:50:57 -0600

Associated Press Writer

NEW YORK -- After months of outrage over a ban on cell phones in the
nation's largest school system, officials are now signaling that there
may be room for compromise.

They are exploring whether to install special lockers outside schools
to store the devices, a development that delayed recent court
arguments on the ban.

But questions remain about the logistics of such a system in a school
district with so many students -- and so many students who use cell

"I wish it would work, but I just know it won't," said Dorothy Giglio,
a co-president of the Parent Teacher Association at James Madison High
School. "I have almost 4,300 students in my building. I cannot
envision 4,300 lockers in front of the building."

The locker proposal follows New York's move last year to step up its
scrutiny of what gets in and out of schools -- a move aimed primarily
at finding weapons. Along the way, schools confiscated thousands of
student cell phones. Students have responded by sneaking phones inside
their lunches and under their clothes. Students also sometimes pay
neighborhood stores small fees to hold their phones for them during
the school day.

Parents insist they need to stay in touch with their children in case
of emergencies like Sept. 11. They have sued the city over the ban,
and sent dozens of angry e-mails to officials.

School officials, as well as Mayor Michael Bloomberg, argue that cell
phones are a distraction and could be used for nefarious purposes,
including cheating.

New York has more than 1,400 schools and 1.1 million students.

The school system said that if it decides to install lockers, students
will probably be charged for their use, perhaps a quarter or 50 cents
each time.

"We're trying to make a real effort to be responsive to parents who
felt that we were not concerned about their ability to reach their
kids and their kids' ability to reach them while at the same time not
compromising on our commitment not to let cell phones in the school
doors," schools spokesman David Cantor said.

Copyright 2007 Newsday Inc.
Copyright 2007 Associated Press

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