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Debate over cellphone use heating up in Stafford County schools

STAFFORD COUNTY, Va. — The idea of students texting between classes, at lunch and possibly in class isn’t sitting well with some Stafford County teachers and parents.

A proposal is on the table to relax the cell phone rules for middle and high school students, and it’s a debate that’s heating up right now in the Stafford School system.  Currently in Stafford County, students can use the phones in class if they get permission, otherwise they aren’t supposed to use them.

Not much can come between teenagers and their cell phones. Ian McDaniel agrees. He says not even the ringing of the school bell can keep some of his school mates from using their cell phones, even when they’re not supposed to use them.

“I see a lot of kids keep them on vibrate,” McDaniel said. “They’ll text and look on websites.”

The Stafford High senior is glad the school board is now considering a plan to ease cell phone restrictions. The move would allow cell phone use between classes in the halls and in cafeterias.

“If there are places and times students are allowed to use the phones, I  feel like they’re less inclined to use it when they’re not supposed to, ”  McDaniel explained.

We checked the code of conduct with some area school systems. In Henrico,  students in middle and high school are required to keep their cell phones out of sight during the entire school day. Chesterfield’s code of conduct reveals students aren’t supposed to have cell phones at school.

Mom Ashley Garraway says she thinks having the phones in school is too much of a distraction.

“It’s aggravating,” she said. “It’s stressful to the teachers to have to keep saying stop.”

“They should just keep the phones in their book bags,” Garraway added.

Veteran teacher Kathryn Dennis has several concerns. She spoke out this week to the school board letting them know there are already too many problems with kids and phones under the current policy.

“They have used cell phones to cheat,” Dennis explained. “They text answers and they’re taking copies of the test.”

“It’s not just exclusive to my classroom,” she added.  “Another teacher had her test go out on Twitter.”

Some Stafford school board members are concerned that a committee formed to study the issue didn’t include any teachers.

Irene Egan says that is concerning to her. She and other board members would like more input from parents in the district.

Egan says they held off on the decision until they get more feedback.

She says they plan to revisit the issue at their next board meeting June 10th.

Stay with CBS 6 News for the latest developments.

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