KYLE, Texas (KXAN) — Students who fail to put their cellphone away after being asked to do so by an educator at a Hays Consolidated Independent School District campus will have to start paying a fee to get the phone back.
The decision to implement a $10 fine was made during the Hays CISD board meeting Monday evening.
Superintendent Dr. Eric Wright said during the meeting the idea stemmed from the Student Advisory Committee. Wright said a majority of the students polled said having their cellphone on them was more of a distraction than a “great learning device.” While most students said they would start researching a topic on their phone, it would quickly turn into a situation where they would get lost in Facebook notifications and other apps.
“In order to make sure cellphones aren’t a distraction at a secondary level, we needed consequences that have more teeth,” Wright said.
Students can still use phones when given permission to do so, but once they are asked to put the phone away but don’t, their phone will be confiscated and returned once the $10 fine is paid.
“It’s exciting because it kind of gives teachers that authority again to, you know, give them permission when it’s allowed and take it away when it’s not,” said Hays CISD teacher Blair Little.
Little says she struggles with students misusing their cellphones every day. “I can see them out of the corner of my eye and I’m like, ‘put that away,’ and then I get back to the group that I am working with.”
Little says a single text can derail an entire day and cause a student to lose all focus.
“It takes time, it all adds up. It’s really stressful as a teacher, because you’re like every second literally counts in class.”
Dhalstrom Middle School Principal Michael Watson says there are also other positives to the policy. “I think it will curb some of the bullying that takes place on social media and the cellphones during the school day because students won’t be using them in the common areas,” he said.
The district agreed the money that was collected will be used for a charitable cause such as Clothes Closet or the food pantry. If a student can’t pay the fee, district leaders say they will look at requiring the student to do some sort of in-school community service instead.
Board President Merideth Keller said she wanted to move quickly on the item because school starts on Monday, Aug. 27. “Our principals will be best served by being able to address the cellphone problem — because I want to call it what it is. To address the cellphone problem from Day 1,” Keller said.
Austin ISD, Round Rock ISD and Lake Travis ISD all have a $15 fine for confiscated phones.