New York City school allowing cell phones on campus

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Rob Nelson has the details. (WABC)

Advocates say there's a good reason why the Department of Education instituted a system-wide ban on cell phones, believing they are too much of a distraction in class.

But now several schools claim they have a good reason for allowing students to stash their phones inside schools.

It's an after-school ritual and daily expense for countless public school students -- picking up their cell phone from storage spots after years of the gadgets being banned from many campuses.

It's an 8-year-old rule enforced mainly at some campuses with metal detectors, but the policy is slowing crumbling. Several schools, including those at the Martin Luther King Educational Complex on the Upper West Side, are now letting students bring their phones back to campus, where the schools store them for free during classes.

Mayor Bill de Blasio has vowed an outright overturning of the ban, which was put in place back in 2006 by former Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who believes the phones are a major classroom distraction.

Students, meanwhile, are welcoming the end of the ban, if nothing else just to get rid of the storage expenses, which are typically a dollar a day. It's an expense that prompted a cottage industry in the city, with a deli near the Martin Luther King schools charging as much as $5 a day.

Some parents support the change, too. Sam Pirozzolo, of the city's parents' union, released a statement, saying,

"Cell phones help to keep our children safer as they travel to and from school. Surely, if Mayor de Blasio can stop having people arrested for carrying marijuana, he can stop our schools from taking cell phones from children."

According to the school system, "To change this policy effectively, we must have clear policies established on the use of cell phones in schools, including under what circumstances they can be on, how they can be used for academic purposes and clear guidelines to ensure the safety of all students."

The Department of Education says it is aware of the new program at the Martin Luther King schools and don't plan to interfere. Officials say the district and the mayor are still committed to officially overturning the ban. The only question now is exactly when.
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educationeducationcellphonecellphone distractionsschoolNew York CityUpper West Side
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