Principals discuss tweens and cell phones

By Allison C. Gallagher -

TROY — With the coming of a new school year comes a new transition for many families with students graduating from elementary school to Van Cleve Sixth Grade Building or from Van Cleve to the junior high school.

Statistics show that 78 percent of teenagers have a cell phone, and the average age for parents giving their child a phone is 12. The reasoning many parents give is that students are beginning to get involved in more after-school activities and are asserting some independence from their parents for the first time, so the phones are a must to keep an eye on them.

However, students having cell phones on them during school can pose an issue to teachers and administrators if the phones are out and being a distraction.

Troy Junior High School Principal Dave Dilbone said there weren’t any major disciplinary issues with students having their phones in class at the junior high, and that sometimes teachers will give students permission to have their phones out if there’s an educational purpose.

“I have some teachers that allow cell phones to be used for educational purposes,” he said. “That’s something we started a few years ago, which is up to teacher discretion.”

He has not had any issues with parents approaching him asking for students to be given permission to have the phone on in class in the event of a family emergency, adding that if the situation would come up he would ask that the parents call the office to get a hold of the student that way.

“The challenge would be defining what an emergency is,” he explained. “Every situation is different, so if we had a parent come in wanting their child to have permission to have a cell phone on them in class, we’d have to go and start defining what is an emergency and how that would be determined. It’s easier to have parents call the office.”

Matt Siefring was the assistant principal at the junior high school last year and is now the principal at Van Cleve.

He did not anticipate any issues with students having phones in the upcoming school year, with the exception of the occasional student forgetting they had their phone in their pocket and the phone going off in class.

“On the first day at the junior high we would explain that they were in school and under district policy they were not to have their phones out,” he said. “I plan on continuing that policy here at Van Cleve so the kids know, this is what it is, from the first day.”

By Allison C. Gallagher

Reach Allison C. Gallagher at or on Twitter@Troydailynews.

Reach Allison C. Gallagher at or on Twitter@Troydailynews.