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US: State Senate candidate backs ban on cell-phone use in schools

Wading into a contentious issue that has pitted students and parents against City Hall, GOP state Senate candidate Robert Helbock said that, if elected, he would introduce legislation to allow the city Department of Education to prohibit the use of cell phones during school hours.

Helbock said the legislation would permit students to carry their phones during the school day, unless the school provides a "secure facility," such as a locker, for storage.

"During these times of heightened alert and security concerns, a rule that prohibits students from having cell phones in their possession at school is unreasonable," Helbock said at Borough Hall.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg supports a longtime city policy that bans cell phone from schools entirely.

Helbock has been endorsed by the borough Conservative Party and is battling City Councilman Andrew Lanza (R-South Shore) for the GOP nomination in the Senate race. Attorney Matthew Titone is the Democratic candidate.

The men are vying to replace retiring state Sen. John Marchi (R-Staten Island).

Bloomberg has said cell phones are a distraction in the classroom and might be used by students to cheat, take inappropriate photos in bathrooms and locker rooms and organize gang rendezvous.

They also are among the most-stolen items in schools, but students and parents say the phones are necessary, especially after the 9/11 attacks.

Bloomberg has said that halfway measures, such as checking phones at the school door, place too great a burden on administrators.

Helbock's legislation would authorize the confiscation and loss of a cell phone if used during school hours, and would allow the DOE to suspend repeat offenders.

Lanza has co-sponsored legislation in the Council allowing students to carry cell phones but banning their use in the classroom.

"It's become an issue where there's been abuse," Lanza said yesterday. "It's one more behavioral problem you need to deal with in school."

Titone suggested using phone-blocking technology in the schools, or collecting phones on trays in each classroom. "I just can't imagine that there are not a number of alternatives to an all-out ban, which public school parents have already vigorously opposed," Titone said.

The city phone ban has been in place for nearly 20 years, but has been enforced only with the recent use of metal detectors at schools.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

By TOM WROBLESKI

Found here: http://www.youthrights.org/for...

Posted by: SoulRiser
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Posted in: News by NewsBot on August 20, 2006 @ 12:00 AM

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