Pelham Examiner

Pelham Examiner

Pelham Examiner

School board’s policy committee sets two public events as it looks at changing rules on cell phone use at PMHS

The Pelham Board of Education’s policy committee has set two public events for this month as it looks at revising the rules governing cell phone usage in the high school.

The policy committee is examining “the use of cell phones and digital devices district-wide, and considering changes in practice that would most directly impact the high school,” and scheduled the events “to understand the impact of potential changes and engage with the community,” said an announcement from the Pelham Union Free School District emailed at 7 p.m. on Friday.

The document did not detail what policy changes may be coming, but the approaches of the three educators at the first event Wednesday at noon, a virtual panel to be led by School Board Vice President Ian Rowe, point to the possibility of increased restrictions on student cell phone access at Pelham Memorial High School. With bios provided by the district, the panelists for the Google Meet event will be:

  • Doug Lemov, founder of Teach Like A Champion. He “wrote one of the most read articles in education reform in 2022: Take Away Their Cellphones – Education Next.”
  • Lyne James Turnbull, founding principal of New Pathways Academy, a middle school in the Bronx. She “will discuss the impact of how phone-free initiates can drive school culture and build a warm and safe environment for all.”
  • Josh Andrew, head of school at Atlanta Classical Academy a charter school teaching grades seven through 12. He “has launched an initiative for the month of February to challenge students to extend the school’s ‘away for the day’ policy to their homes by staying off social media, limiting phone and tablet use to one hour a day, and putting phones and tablets away by 8 p.m. each evening.”

The purpose of the panel is to discuss “how digital devices are impacting students and their perspectives on how best to manage technology within the school environment,” said the announcement. Attendees can ask questions. PMHS Principal Mark Berkowitz sent an email Tuesday to students inviting them to attend if they have a free period at noon. The panel will be recorded.

On March 19 at 7 p.m., the district will host a world cafe on the same issue in PMHS Cafeteria C for current and soon-t0-be parents of high school students. The event is a collaboration with the PMHS PTA and the school board’s community engagement and advocacy committee.

To be structured like a community event last year on “defining excellence,” the school district email said, attendees at the World Cafe “will discuss the topic of students’ use of phones/digital devices and potential changes at the high school level. The event will include a brief presentation followed by a guided discussion and opportunity to lend your voice to this important conversation. The information gleaned from this event will be reviewed by the policy committee and used as it considers potential board of education policies for cell phone/digital device use by students in school.”

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