Lockhart ISD bans student phones completely, will cost $15 to get them back

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LOCKHART, Texas (KXAN) — The Lockhart Independent School District is enforcing a phone ban for all students in an effort to remove distractions and alleviate stress.

Other districts in central Texas have enforced similar policies over the years, and some have even brought a lot of good to the community.  

Take the Hays Consolidated Independent School District, for example.

It all started in a closed-door meeting where 12 students offered a surprising suggestion to their superintendent. 

“At the end of the day, we are here to learn and not to be on our cell phones,” recalled Eric Wright, superintendent for Hays CISD. 

From that point forward, cell phones were off limits, unless the teacher gave permission. Over the 2018 year, Hays schools confiscated more than 600 phones. And getting caught meant coughing up a $10 fine.  

But that money went a long way.

It paid for four $1,500 scholarships in honor of the late Phillip Taylor, the district’s director of safety and security who was killed in a car crash earlier this year. 

“I was really pleased that our students bought into our policies and procedures and respected it,” Wright said. 

Now other schools are following suit. In fact, Lockhart ISD banned phones from class entirely. 

“There is a difference between consuming technology and using technology to produce original thoughts and ideas,” said Lockhart ISD Superintendent Mark Estrada. 

Lockhart High has more than 1,500 Chromebooks for students to use, so Estrada said there is no need for phone access. Students will face a $15 fine if theirs is confiscated. 

“The constant attachment and need to respond and check their status and those types of things were really driving the students stress,” Estrada said. 

Some Lockhart parents questioned how the district will communicate emergencies. Christina Courson, the executive director of communications and community services for the school district, said staff will rely on mobile alerts and emails, which will likely be faster and more accurate than student reports.

“We have to be willing to make those tough decisions for the good of our students well being and their academic progress,” Estrada said. 

KXAN also checked with Austin ISD for its student cell phone policy.  

Unless students have prior permission, phones must be turned off and kept out of sight, in a backpack or a locker during the school day. 

There is two-day waiting period and a $15 administrative fee to get confiscated phones back and that money goes into the school’s student activity fund.  

You can find the entire policy here

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