NEW YORK—The City Council sent a letter to Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott Tuesday, asking him to revise the Department of Education’s (DOE) ban on cellphones in school buildings.
Forty-seven of the 51 council members signed the letter, which was penned by Councilman Lewis Fidler.
Fidler wrote in the letter that the law, enforced by the DOE since 2006, was “out of date,” and parents want children to carry cellphones for safety.
“Cellphones are here to stay and their proper use should be taught to young people,” Fidler wrote in a statement. “Rules that are arbitrary breed disrespect for the law and for authority. Please use this as an opportunity to educate our children.”
The letter suggested a change in policy, including allowing students to bring cellphones to school, but requiring them to turn them off inside school facilities. Students using cellphones without permission would be given written warnings for first violations, and confiscation for subsequent violations.
“That would send the appropriate message and would not tell kids in the don’t-ask-don’t-tell schools that it is okay to violate the rules,” Fidler said.
According to Fidler, some schools with metal detectors make students pay to store cellphones during school hours.
In 2007, the council passed a law stating that no one could interfere with a child’s right to carry a cellphone to and from school. Fidler wrote in the letter, “Since passage, the DOE at the very least has been violating the spirit of that law.”
Council Speaker Christine Quinn was one of the four council members who did not sign the letter to the schools chancellor.
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