School tries fining, not taking, cellphones

With confiscated phones ringing in teachers' desks, school tries an age-old way to change behavior - money.

In the cellphones vs. education war, Derby School in Connecticut has a new tactic, fining cellphone users, reports The Boston Globe

In New York City, school administrators have been confiscating phones, and parents have responded with anger and eventually a lawsuit. In Massachusetts, a school's confiscation policy brought objections from no less than the American Civil Liberties Union. By contrast, the Derby plan appears to accommodate parents' needs while discouraging disruptive, purely social uses.

Although most schools usually just hand out detentions or suspensions for cellphone use, administrators at Derby school say they have had so many teachers confiscating cellphones in the classroom that they had to institute more drastic measures.

Principal Michael Novia desk drawer contains a small pile of cellphones which ring even after they have been confiscated. In order to deter students from bringing them to class, he's going to fine them.

The fines would start at $3, then go up to $5 for a second offense and $10 for a third. Students would have to pay the fines to retrieve their phones if they are confiscated after going off in class.

Money collected from the fines would be used to sponsor a party for the students.

"I think it's a fun and practical way to lessen cell phone use," Novia said.

The policy still needs approval from the Board of Education and most likely parents will register some opposition to the fines, as they want to be able to keep in touch with the kids.