July 14, 2024 The Newspaper Serving LGBT Los Angeles

LAUSD Board Approves Cell Phone Ban for District Schools

Resolution Aims to Be Effective by January 2025

The LAUSD board voted 5-2 on Tuesday to pass a resolution authored by Board Member Nick Melvoin in favor of a cell phone ban in Los Angeles School District schools. 

According to a press release from Melvoin’s office, the resolution is meant to create truly phone-free school days across the District. The press release states that studies show that smartphones and social media distract kids from learning, erode their mental health, and stifle in-person social connections. 

Two board members voted against the motion, raising concerns about the practicality of enforcement in such a large district. Board member Scott Schmerelson, who voted no, expressed apprehension that the responsibility of monitoring cell phone use could overwhelm school principals, detracting from their primary duties. He added that school employees could be held personally responsible for cell phones that are confiscated. 

Another board member, Dr. Joseph McKenna, raised the issue of students’ civil rights to cell phones during school hours and said it was possible that legal challenges could come from the policy in the future. 

According to the press release, “L.A. Unified is the largest school district to implement a smartphone ban during the school day to support student’s academic success and well-being.”

The resolution, which was co-sponsored by Board President Jackie Goldberg and Board Member Tanya Ortiz Franklin, calls on the District to create a comprehensive implementation policy to take effect in January 2025. 

Melvoin stated in the emailed statement, “Kids no longer have the opportunity to just be kids. I’m hoping this resolution will help students not only focus in class but also give them a chance to interact and engage more with each other—and just be kids.”  

This resolution will extend the district’s current rules, which already prohibit cell phone use during class and restrict social media usage to educational purposes, from a resolution already passed in 2011. 

Individual schools will have the flexibility to determine how to enforce the ban, such as requiring students to store their phones in lockers or designated pouches throughout the day. The board resolution mandates that staff develop and present detailed implementation policies to the public within 120 days for final approval by the board.

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