An Olive Branch resident did more than just send a text message to the DeSoto County Schools Board of Education about its cell phone discipline policy; he appeared live and in person to ask for a complete revamping of the policy that regulates phone usage and discipline for its misuse during school hours.
Chris Mitchell, who has children in DeSoto Central schools, appeared at a recent board meeting to urge it look at one part of the policy in particular.
“That particular piece of the policy should be stricken from the policy, discontinued and not be allowed to be on the table,” Mitchell said. “That piece of the policy is the school actually confiscating the device and keeping it for a period of time.”
Mitchell quoted the policy provision that said violations of cell phone use during school hours can result in the device being confiscated from 5-20 days per offense. He believes the school does not have a right to take an item that is personal property that can be valued into the hundreds of dollars and hold it for that long a period of time.
“What happens outside of the school is my prevue as a parent,” Mitchell said. “What if my child needed their cell phone or something else outside of school? I don’t think the board actually has the authority. Cell phones are the property of the parent. We let our children use these.”
Mitchell also pointed out to the board the replacement costs for such devices could be as high as $800, depending on the device, and the district has no financial responsibility if it would be damaged or destroyed while in the school’s possession.
He likened the discipline premise to the school impounding a car misused by a student and then charging the parent for the towing and impound fees.
“I don’t have a problem with a teacher taking a phone and keeping it until the end of class,” Mitchell said. “But, keeping it for five days, 20 days, 10 days whatever is out of line.”
In his comments to the board, Mitchell noted he has made suggestions to school officials about changes in the policy and has spoken on the phone with Assistant Superintendent Keith Williams about the issue. Mitchell has also admitted that this all came to light for him after his son was disciplined while in class. 
Board members heard Mitchell’s comments but no action at the meeting. District spokeswoman Katherine Nelson Wednesday noted that all school board policies are reviewed each year and, while no action was taken, all parents’ concerns are given due consideration as reviews are made.
Bob Bakken is Staff Writer and may be reached at 662-429-6397, Ext. 240. 



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