A Lewiston High School student plays a game on his phone June 2 during class. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

LEWISTON — The School Committee plans to hold its second and final vote Monday on a revised policy, which would increase restrictions on cellphone use and prohibit students from taking video, photographs or recordings in school without permission.

A form requesting anonymous input on the policy from members of the school community collected more than 500 responses between Aug. 17-24. Many parents, guardians and staff expressed support for the proposed policy, some with suggested edits.

“I support this policy,” wrote one parent. “Phones have become such a distraction in the classroom, not only for students it also gets in the way of teachers actually being able to teach. I hope this policy is really enforced.”

“I will strongly support and enforce these rules regarding students’ electronic devices and cellphones,” an educator wrote. “These rules will support a better learning environment for students and staff members.”

One educator expressed concerns on whether the policy will be enforced equally because “there are many teachers and staff in the buildings that are more concerned with being popular and being friends with the students.”

Another educator approved of the policy, but asked the committee to clarify it further.


“I think the overall policy is well written and clear,” they wrote. “I do wish it provides more guidance on those gray areas, such as use of electronics on school buses, field trips, sporting events, and school assemblies.”

The students were far less enthused, with one calling the policy “stupid and unacceptable.”

“We need our cellphone,” one student wrote. “What if we get (an) emergency call from our parents? What if (we) have free time in the class, what are we supposed to do, sit there (and) do nothing? Some of us don’t like reading books because they are boring.”

A staff member who previously worked at a school with a similar policy asked the committee to reconsider, calling their experience a “nightmare on so many levels.”

“I am really concerned about the implementation energy this will take up, at the expense of learning/teaching, other behaviors, culture, and safety,” the educator wrote. “Students often do not willingly hand over their phone, and then you have a defiance situation where admin need to come in … This sets up an adversarial relationship with a lot of students.”

A parent wrote that the policy was “a hopeless attempt to stifle images and videos that embarrass the schools. It won’t work.”


Under the policy, students in grades K-8 would be required to keep cellphones in their bag during the day. High school students would also be barred from using their cellphones, except during breaks between classes and lunch.

An exception could be made for devices that are deemed to be “essential for the student’s health, safety or for educational purposes as determined by the administration.”

Students would additionally be prohibited from taking photos, videos or audio recordings in locker rooms and bathrooms. At any other school location, permission must be obtained before using a camera, however the policy does not specify from whom.

Other devices restricted during the school day include, but are not limited to, iPods, MP3 players, hand-held computers, electronic games, laser pointers, headphones and similar devices.

Students’ phones could be subjected to search if there is reasonable suspicion of a violation of committee or other school rules, which include, but are not limited to harassment, cheating and violations of the student code of conduct, according to the proposed policy.

Policy violations could lead to confiscation of the device, up to suspension, expulsion and referral to law enforcement.

The vote will take place at the committee meeting at 5:30 p.m. at Connors Elementary School.

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