Text messaging issue in schools

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Cell phone usage is an issue facing Andalusia High School’s administration, AHS principal Daniel Shakespeare told the board of education at its Monday meeting.

Shakespeare said that the board had already implemented a $50 fine for being caught with a cell phone, a measure that yielded some $2,000 in collections last school year.

“(Cell phones) are the most frustrating part of my job,” he said. “If a cell phone goes off in class, the teacher calls me and I go to the classrooms and look for the cell phone. It shuts down the whole education process.”

Shakespeare said that usually he doesn’t find out who the culprit is with the ringing cell phone, but often finds numerous other cell phones.

“Our policy is that they can have them at school, but they must leave them in their locker,” he said. “If I were to conduct a check I would collect around 150 cell phones at one time.”

Andalusia Middle School interim principal Victoria Anderson said cell phones are a problem there too.

“We still have about 50 phones in a desk drawer, where we took them up last year,” she said.

Shakespeare said that some students use their cell phones to text message answers to tests.

Board member Amy Dugger expressed concern about students updating social networking sites via text messaging during class, adding it reflects poorly on the school system.

School board attorney Bill Alverson told the school board that since social networking sites are a form of open communication and have a date and time stamp that they would have documentation that a student was using their cell phone at school.

The board voted to approve the changes to the AHS handbook, which included going back to a disciplinary point system, which ranges from 10 points for littering and parking violations to 125 for fighting with a weapon and drug possession or use.

“This isn’t a new system, we used it back in 2004, and we’re going back to it,” Shakespeare said.

The handbook also included fee schedule for classes at the high school, which range from $10 to $20.

The board also discussed that band director and girls’ basketball coach Bennie Shellhouse will serve as the administrative assistant to Shakespeare and Anthony Mikel would also help fill in with some of the duties.

Earlier this year, the board transferred AHS assistant principal Donna Glisson to AES, where she will serve in the same capacity.

In other business, the board:

• tabled the child nutrition department’s request to renew a bid contract with Barber’s Dairy for milk because the figures were not presented to them.

• accepted the low bid of $55,187 by Southern Management for Janitorial Services at AHS for the 2010-2011 school year.

• approved a leave of absence for AMS sixth grade teacher Lynn Castleberry for maternity leave, effective Oct. 4, 2010 to Jan. 4, 2011.

• accepted the retirement of Judy Armstrong from her position as curriculum coach at the central office effective July 31, 2010.

• hired Warren Kirkland as eighth grade social studies teacher at AMS; Amy Bryan as seventh grade math teacher at AMS; Wanda Buckelew as eighth grade English teacher at AMS; Lisa Locklier and Vicki Riley as P.E. teacher at Andalusia Elementary School for 91 days each; Orvel Ragland as P.E. teacher at AES; Stephanie Nall as science teacher at AES; and Amber Clark as paraprofessional at AES.

• rescinded the hire of Kristen Roberts as enrichment teacher at AMS, effective July 6, 2010. Roberts declined the position.

• rescinded the transfer to Ginny Adams from kindergarten to third grade because kindergarten enrollment numbers were back up.