District Pays for Phones Confiscated Then Stolen

Just this year, five or six confiscated phones were replaced by the school because they were stolen before they could be returned to the student.

In most of the cases, the phones were stolen from a teacher’s desk. In one instance, a phone was stolen after the floor of a gym locker fell through. Principal Michael Griffith explained that this phone was also replaced by the school because it was school property that broke and enabled the theft.

 “We don’t want to be in a position of managing kids’ devices and then not be able to return them,” Griffith said.

As phones have become smarter and more expensive, Griffith fears that a stolen phone will end up being an $800 iPhone that the school has to replace. “We have to have a plan,” he said.

When a confiscated phone is stolen and therefore cannot be returned to the student, the parents are notified and asked to come to school to provide information about the phone. “We try to replace the exact item,” Griffith said. The parents then sign a form acknowledging that the phone was replaced.

Griffith plans to make sure the phones are secured to prevent this problem from continuing. If the phone is to be kept only until the end of the period, it should be kept in a “locked drawer.”

But, if the phone is to be kept for a longer period of time, for example the entire school day, a different procedure should be followed. “If in the middle of the lesson, a teacher confiscates a phone, in reasonable time, it should get to a security guard or administrator to get it to a place that is secure.” Griffith explained that this could be in Room 113 or a safe in a different room.

Sophomore Shaun Roy has never had his phone confiscated, but he sees plenty of blame to go around in such cases.

“Initially, I would be furious, but then I would realize that I shouldn’t have had my phone out in the first place,” Roy said. “I would blame myself for having my phone out, but I would also blame the teacher for not taking better care of my device.”

 A version of this article appeared in print on 20 March 2012, on page 2 of The Shakerite.

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