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Ohio largest teachers' union says cell phone policies in their schools are good ideas

child using a cell phone
Marina Demidiuk, Shutterstock
child using a cell phone

Less than a month after Gov. Mike DeWine proposed K-12 schools in Ohio develop policies on the use of cell phones, state lawmakers put that suggestion into action and sent him a bill.

Last week, the Ohio Senate amended a bill to include a provision that requires schools to adopt a cell phone policy for students. The House unanimously approved the measure Wednesday.

Rep. Beryl Brown Piccolantonio (D-Gahanna) has served on a local school board. She said she likes the bill because it allows schools to customize their own plan to meet the unique needs of students and parents.

 “It provides that flexibility to the districts so that the policy can accommodate for those situations," Brown Piccolantonio said.

The bill also requires the Department of Education and Workforce to create a model policy that schools can use when coming up with their cell phone rules for students.

Teachers say they want it too

The president of the state's largest teachers union said teachers are on board with the idea.

“I hear from teachers across the state all of the time, how frustrated they are, with the way cell phones distract from learning and other ways cell phones take away from positive socialization," said Scott DiMauro, president of the Ohio Education Association. "I think it’s important that all schools get serious about cell phone use.”

DiMauro said it's important that parents support a cell policy too. He said such policies are necessary for teachers to be able to teach students effectively.

“The system that does not work is leaving it up to the individual teacher in the classroom. Teachers don’t want to be the cell phone police," DiMauro said.

DeWine said cell phone use in school gets in the way of learning and can be harmful for kids.

Because DeWine promoted the cell phone policy idea in his State of the State speech last month, he's is expected to sign the bill into law soon. That means the law would be in place for the beginning of the 2024-2025 school year.

Contact Jo Ingles at jingles@statehousenews.org.