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Posted at 10:45 AM ET, 06/18/2010

Pr. Geo.'s approves school cellphone ban

By Michael Birnbaum

Prince George's County students will have to keep their cellphones turned off from the first bell of the morning to the last bell of the day under a strict new ban passed Thursday night by the school board. And they will not be permitted to post photographs taken on school property to Web sites such as Facebook.

The ban goes further than any other local school system's, many of which have been liberalizing their cellphone rules, not tightening them. But citing a silent, under-the-desk epidemic of text messages during class, the board voted to ban the devices during school hours, including lunch, except in rare cases in which students have teacher permission. Students may bring cellphones to school, but they must be turned off, not just silenced, during the day.

The board passed the policy 7-2, with the student board member dissenting along with one other.

Stay with Post Now for an update on the Prince George's school board's decision to adopt the area's strictest ban on cellphones.

-- Michael Birnbaum

By Michael Birnbaum  | June 18, 2010; 10:45 AM ET
Categories:  Maryland  
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Good move.

Posted by: lsf07 | June 18, 2010 11:14 AM | Report abuse

BRAVO PG finally you getting something right.

Posted by: B4DarkDC | June 18, 2010 11:33 AM | Report abuse

Can't post photo's taken on school grounds? Don't get it. I guess I forgot that the public doesn't own the public schools and that when a citizen takes a picture on public property they aren't allowed to post the picture. We should also ban the posting of pictures taken on county parkland. That is a good move, it aught to solve a lot of the world's problems.

Posted by: permagrin | June 18, 2010 11:36 AM | Report abuse

Excellent! No a minute too late!

Posted by: DCResident10 | June 18, 2010 12:07 PM | Report abuse

Thumbs up to PG County!!!! Many of these kids use their cell phones to schedule "fights" and a way to bully other kids. I think cell phones should be banned in schools period, but this is the next best thing. If you're using your phone in school, you're distracted from instruction time.

Posted by: ksimms1 | June 18, 2010 12:17 PM | Report abuse

so how would you know if these kids post pictures aint nobody monitoring that crap..great job pg county...dumbasses

Posted by: seananthony151 | June 18, 2010 12:29 PM | Report abuse

It doesn't say what will happen if a student is caught with a cell phone on. I say they get kick out for the whole school year.

Posted by: PublicEnemy1 | June 18, 2010 12:34 PM | Report abuse


Apparently some morons don't realize that they aren't allowed to publish pictures of people without the person being photographed having signed release forms.

Posted by: daweeni | June 18, 2010 12:40 PM | Report abuse

This isn't protecting the students, this is preventing the parents from seeing what is really going on in the schools.

Prince Georges County High Schools are public buildings paid for with our tax dollars.

Just last week a child was stabbed at Bowie High School. Wouldn't it be great evidence for a trial if that stabbing was posted?

We should be headed towards full disclosure not preventing it.

Posted by: ProfessorWrightBSU | June 18, 2010 1:00 PM | Report abuse

Banning the posting of all pictures taken on school grounds will prevent a lot of a high school experiences that students want to share from being uploaded. This will include school dances, concerts, sports matches, and even those photos of your friends you take at lunch - what's so bad about sharing these PG?

I'm not sure how others use Facebook but I'm "friends" with a lot of my family members and they can check in with me and actually SEE what I'm up to by viewing my photos on Facebook, and they get to be a part of my life that way.

Posted by: khornyan | June 18, 2010 1:05 PM | Report abuse

I clearly do not understand you might as well ban phones all together these teachers are paid to teach not monitor who has a cell phone going off in the classroom. They tried this way before facebook was relevant years ago. Clearly if these kids are not friends with teachers they should be ok.

Posted by: seananthony151 | June 18, 2010 1:24 PM | Report abuse

So no pictures of friends at sporting events and band concerts, I guess the graduation pics are a NO NO also? What about linking to a WP article that has pictures from the schools? Not very well thought out.

Posted by: crete | June 18, 2010 1:45 PM | Report abuse

I'm in a constant battle with my students regarding cell phones. If they use them during a test, they could be photographing the test to share with students who have not yet taken the test. I think they should be OFF during all classes, but students should be able to use them during lunch, just as they could use a public phone. Now - to be honest - drug deals, gang activity, and other behaviors are assisted by cell phone usage. We will never be able to get rid of it, but we might be able to keep students safe during the day if they are off their phones. And by the way, they are supposed to be READING, TAKING NOTES, SOLVING PROBLEMS, LEARNING while in the classroom...NOT talking to friends and relative on the phone!!!!!!!!!!! Why is that so difficult for people to comprehend???

Posted by: DecafDrinker | June 18, 2010 1:46 PM | Report abuse

This shows just how out of touch the PG schools board is with reality. Just how are they going to stop students from posting photos taken at school on Facebook? This is absolutely unenforceable and probably illegal.

Posted by: postisarag | June 18, 2010 1:48 PM | Report abuse

Surely the policy doesn't read "cell phone".
There are plenty of devices available that are not "cell phones" that allow message exchange.

And you should probably clarify the definition of "publish".
So if I take a photo in a public place - let's say National Harbor - and I happen to get the random family walking behind my target, I need to get their permission before I upload that picture?! please.

I get restricting the students - but, hopefully, these decision makers are technologically literate enough to develop a policy that's not obsolete next week.

Posted by: robjdisc | June 18, 2010 2:15 PM | Report abuse

Message to PG County;

When someone videotapes a fight in one of your schools and uploads it to facebook or youtube, it is the FIGHT that is the problem.

Stop the fights!

Let the kids record their high school experience, and make sure its a positive one.

Posted by: MarilynManson | June 18, 2010 2:33 PM | Report abuse

Guess what? The world won't come to an end because kids can't use their cell-phones during the six hours their in school.

Posted by: PracticalIndependent | June 18, 2010 2:46 PM | Report abuse

The policy reads cellular telephone and other personal electronic devices ... It applies to students only. Penalties include taking the phone away for the remainder of the school day, requiring the parent to come and pick it up, and prohibiting the student from bringing a phone to school.

I hope enforcing the policy doesn't become more of a distraction than cell phone use has become. While I understand the need, I am not in favor of it.

Posted by: mgribben | June 18, 2010 2:53 PM | Report abuse

Who was the other dissenting school board member?

Why did Birnbaum decide not to report that fact?

Seems to me that schools claim to want students to learn from their teachers, but this prohibits prohibits students from following their teacher's example. Why the hypocritical double standard?

Looks like it also prohibits taking picture for yearbooks and similar purposes.

Posted by: dcrussell | June 18, 2010 3:06 PM | Report abuse

Im sorry, but this is a little extreme, i text in school, but its my PARENTS.! like if i dont feel good. and what if someones parents are divorced or sick and you need to check on them every once in a while.? i wouldnt want to explain that to all my teachers. And kids might text, but not alot. i hope you realize that even if kids do text aot its going to effect them because that is the choice they make. And taking picturs in school is bad? Thats stupid. At lunch and before school games and events people like to take pictures, to save memorys of our school years. and now your bannning it? ://

I doubt it will be followed anyway.

Posted by: OliviaC | June 18, 2010 3:38 PM | Report abuse


Oh, and if you want to take pictures, bring a camera, not a cell phone. Problem solved.

When I was in school (late 70s through late 80s) video games and any other handheld electronic devices were confiscated if they were used in the classroom. It's just common sense.

Posted by: steve1231 | June 18, 2010 3:51 PM | Report abuse

This is just another rule that teacher's will be enforcing instead of focusing on what is important. All of the rule enforcement takes away from the learning more than the underlying behavior.

Posted by: bperk420 | June 18, 2010 4:02 PM | Report abuse

Smart move Prince George(not PG)county kids are there to hopefully learn and not talk and text now how about a crackdown on cellphone usage while driving.

Posted by: dargregmag | June 18, 2010 5:25 PM | Report abuse

I went through all my public education in PG from the 80s through the early 90s. If I remember correctly, back then, bringing a pager to school was grounds for expulsion.

Posted by: nudar | June 18, 2010 6:11 PM | Report abuse

They may have it on them but turned off. Right. Does anyone think that the students will abide by the new rules?

Posted by: bobbo2 | June 18, 2010 6:11 PM | Report abuse

No kid needs a cellphone while in school. If there is an emergency then you go to the office and make a call. The kids are there to learn.

Posted by: bobbo2 | June 18, 2010 6:16 PM | Report abuse


I mean are we forgetting about incidents like 9/11 where it was a convenience for students to have their cell phones in school to make and receive calls from their parents? How would it be possible for 1000+ students to report to the office to use the school phone should another emergency of the like arise?

Posted by: Messiah2010 | June 18, 2010 10:27 PM | Report abuse

I know a teacher who teaches high school in P.G. County and he complains about having to argue constantly with students over putting away their cell phones, portable play stations, and IPods during class.

As the teacher, he locks his cell phone away in the draw during class and takes it out--if at all during school hours--during his half-hour lunch break. If the teacher can detach himself from the cell phone during school hours, so can the students.

Posted by: vscribe | June 18, 2010 10:34 PM | Report abuse

The cell phone thing is fair enough. The not posting pictures is DUMB. I haven't been able to find any information via google about the policy, but if it includes cameras in that, that's a totally awful rule. And if it doesn't, how do they even know (if they can know you posted the pictures, which could be avoided with privacy settings) if you used a phone or a camera?

Posted by: sarahee | June 18, 2010 11:51 PM | Report abuse

Great policy and long overdue.

Lots of PGCPS high schools have already established their own student cell phone use limitations and it works out just fine.

One presumes the purpose of banning cellphone or camera use during school event on PGCPS property is to minimize the ability to post online inappropriate behavior during social events such as fights, drinking, etc. while on school grounds.

PARENTS or adult relatives that have kids participating in sports events or other positive activities, are still permitted to take pictures or record videos of their kids.

What students don't realize is that digital data/pictures posted online can be obtained by present or future employers and colleges enrollment officials. Just one inappropriate photo or activity posted online can harm chances of getting a job or accepted into college.

Students typically don't think of long term affects when on these social internet networks.

Good looking out PGCPS School Board Members.

Posted by: PGCResident1 | June 19, 2010 9:55 AM | Report abuse

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