High school to use cell-phone lock boxes

May 17, 2024

Starting next school year, Wareham High School will implement a new cell-phone policy for students that includes the use of a cell-phone lock box. 

High School Principal Scott Palladino outlined the policy in a Thursday, May 16 meeting of the School Committee, which was devised after research from a committee of teachers

“Basically, our procedure right now is that students are allowed to use their cell phones before school, after school, during passing [between classes] and in lunches,” said Palladino. 

“That will still remain in effect. The only difference will be, instead of students being allowed to secure their cell phone in a bag or in their pocket, we will have a device that’s like a little locker that every student will put their phone in upon entering the classroom.”

Teachers will lock the cell phones in the box at the start of class and will unlock the box at the end of class for students to take back their phones. 

The policy will be enforced uniformly across the school — individual teachers will not have leeway to permit cell-phone usage in their classes. 

The lock-box will be portable, so teachers can bring it with them in an emergency situation. 

The School Committee had a broadly positive reaction to the policy. 

“I can tell you from listening to the people on the tennis team, this is much more acceptable than the rumors [that] are flying about what its going to be,” said School Committee member Geoff Swett, who coaches High School Girls Tennis. 

“I think this is a happy medium,” responded Palladino. “There are a lot of things, as you know, that go on in a high school student’s life, and there has to be some communication throughout the day. 

Student representative Gisella Priestley said she understood why the policy will come into effect, particularly when considering a teacher’s perspective. 

However, “phones, they’re not going away,” Priestley said. It was important to teach students how to self-manage their cell phone usage, particularly the upperclassmen, she added. 

The School Committee voted to accept the new policy among a list of changes to the High School student handbook. 

Palladino said it would provide the school a solid foundation to address cell phone usage. 

“Certainly, this will be our first year, there will be a learning curve,” he said, indicating that the policy could change in future to reflect what the school learns from its implementation.