Rye Board of Education to Research High School’s Phone Policy

The Rye Board of Education recently announced that it will be taking a “deep dive” into the research on student cell phone usage.

exterior of rye high school
File photo/Christian Falcone
Published June 28, 2024 9:29 AM
2 min read

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Phone use is not permitted in the classroom at Rye High School and students should limit their phone activity to the cafeteria or outside the building, according to the school’s Student-Parent Handbook.

But the reality is that phones are in use all day long. And as the 2023-2024 academic year comes to an end, community concerns regarding cell phone usage in and out of the classroom are on the rise.

“Although it seems like there is no formal cell phone policy,” said Matthew Teitsch, a Rye High School physics teacher, “there actually is.”

Cell phone may be used in the classroom with permission from the teacher. When not in use, a student’s phone must be turned off or silent during the school day. Furthermore, RHS’s Code of Conduct prohibits disruptive use of technology, or “the display or use of electronic devices.” Those who fail to do so face confiscation of their device until the final bell of the day, but that’s rarely enforced.

While Teitsch favors the policy, he said enforcement is an issue. “I would like to see the district, meaning administrators, teachers and security, enforce the policy as written. In the absence of that, the policy should be removed or updated,” he said.

But not everyone agrees.

“I believe students should only be penalized for phone use if their actions disrupt the class,” said Sophia Sciulli, a 2024 RHS graduate. “If a student chooses to use their phone quietly during a lesson and isn’t disrupting other students (or the teacher) they should have the autonomy to go on their device. If they don’t pay attention and come to class the next day confused, that’s on them… not the teachers.”

Compared to neighboring high schools, Rye’s phone policies leave more to the imagination. While both RHS and Rye Neck detail the consequences of disruptive behaviors, including confiscation of the device, Rye Neck’s Student Handbook includes a definition of those behaviors: “Videotaping or recording of any individuals without their consent is strictly prohibited and may result in disciplinary consequences,” according to the handbook.

Rye Country Day School has a designated Technology Committee and has adopted the International Society for Technology in Education Standards, which acknowledge technological advancements and set guidelines for digital citizenship and students’ digital footprints.

The Rye Board of Education recently announced that it will be taking a “deep dive” into the research on student cell phone usage and expects to conduct “community conversations” on the topic throughout the fall. Rye City Schools Superintendent Eric Byrne said changes to the phone policy should be made with the community’s sentiment in mind.

“Families need to be a part of the conversation, and if there’s any change, they need to be a part of any changes that are coming,” Byrne said. “The reality is [that] if a child has completely unrestricted [access to a] cell phone, it’s very difficult to navigate that and manage that in school alone. So, we will be beginning some larger conversations with the community.”

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