With the help of the City Council, students can carry cell phones to and from schools next year, a reversal of a policy implemented by the mayor last year banning the devices from city schools altogether.
The Council passed a bill overwhelmingly on Wednesday, July 25 that would give parents the authority to have their children carry a cell phone with them to and from school, so that they can get in touch with their children while they are traveling. However, cell phone usage would still not be permitted in school or on school grounds.
“It’s really a safety issue,” said City Councilmember David Weprin. “It’s something the parents find really important. For safety reasons, they [students] should be able to carry them.”
City Councilmember Melinda Katz agreed.
“I think it’s a great bill,” she said. “This generation of parents expect that they should have access to their children and vice versa after school. It just seems like the smart thing to do during these times.”
Last year, the Department of Education (DOE) banned students from carrying cell phones into school, and even set up random searches at schools to confiscate them. The DOE instructed administrators to confiscate cell phones from students if they were visible in school.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg and The Department of Education (DOE) staunchly supported the cell phone ban, and DOE officials reiterated their support for the ban at a recent council hearing on the new legislation.
“I know the mayor will likely veto it, and we’ll override it,” Weprin said.
Editor’s Note: In May of 2007, only weeks after the massacre at Virginia Tech University, The Queens Courier reported exclusively that Councilmember David Weprin planned to have the Council reexamine the cell phone ban in city schools. Later that month, The Queens Courier also ran another in a series of editorials calling on the city to rescind their cell phone policy.