One School's Cell Phone Policy Has Parents Divided on Social Media

In a now deleted tweet, one parent wasn't happy about the new cell phone policy at her daughter's school. When she took to Twitter, she got mixed reactions.

girl using cell
Photo: Getty Images/skynesher

When kids return to school, they'll break open more than a new notebook. They'll also have a new rulebook to follow. Though some rules—like start times of homeroom—may be the same as last year, others may have been updated.

One school reportedly introduced a new cell phone policy, and a mom was not thrilled. She posted about it in a viral tweet that has since been deleted, but the internet had thoughts.

Here's the 4-1-1.

"My daughter's school released a new cell phone policy that includes, 'School officials can read any text messages between studies, even if the texts occurred outside of school hours,'" started Dr. Rachael French, who is the chair of Biology at San Jose State University.

Dr. French's TL;DR response is: "Nopity nope nope," she tweeted.

Dr. French tweeted that she let her daughter know: "Your phone is my personal property. If someone asks to read your texts, you tell them to call me and ask."

Note that Dr. French said "my," as in her property—not her daughters.

"I read her texts…sometimes," Dr. French said. "Usually only because she asks me to, but we have a blanket policy where if I ask, she has to show it to me. There's a difference between me asking and the school asking."

It's unclear why the school made the policy, and Dr. French tweeted she won't be responding to media requests. But it could be in an effort to prevent bullying or flag students at risk for attempting suicide. Dr. French takes issue with that.

"People, if a child is being cyberbullied and someone told them to kill themselves, the emergency is making sure that child is safe, not immediately figuring out who to punish," she tweeted.

Is it legal? Dr. French doesn't particularly care.

"Whether something is legal is different than whether it is moral…And things can be very inconvenient when they become public even if they were legal," she said.

French's initial tweet racked up 47.4K retweets and more than 9.7K comments—she actually had to mute the conversation.

Many of the comments praised Dr. French.

"Good for you. You are a loving parent who sees your children," tweeted one person.

"Good momma," said another.

"You're iconic," responded someone else.

"I worked in a high school, and we never, ever went through a student's phone until a parent was present, and it was with their permission. If it involved criminal behavior, we left it all up to law enforcement," said someone.

But one person questioned the validity of Dr. French's claims.

"There's zero proof it exists," the person said, in part.

Dr. French tweeted she wasn't going to list the school.

Regardless of where her daughter attends school, others wondered if Dr. French would see it differently if her child was engaging in behavior she may not like.

"So, if your daughter sent nudes to a boy at school and that boy was sending those pictures to his friends, you are willing to fight to protect those boys' privacy?" one person asked.

And another was blunter.

"When at school, they are her authority figures. If you don't like your daughter respecting authority, homeschool her. PERIOD," the user wrote.

It's a tricky situation. On the one hand, young people are in the middle of a mental health crisis, and schools—particularly teachers—are on the front lines of fighting it, whether they want to or not. On the other, cell phones are personal property.

Ultimately, parents and schools should be on the same team in keeping kids safe. Perhaps this thread and policy can open up dialogue on how to best go about that.

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