Policy fills room with cell phones

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The crackdown on cell phones in Richmond County schools has left officials wondering what to do with thousands of phones confiscated in the past 15 years.

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Directory of Public Safety Julia Porter-Stein shows a few of the more than 4,000 confiscated cell phones at the Richmond County Board of Education building.  Rainier Ehrhardt/Staff
Rainier Ehrhardt/Staff
Directory of Public Safety Julia Porter-Stein shows a few of the more than 4,000 confiscated cell phones at the Richmond County Board of Education building.

The evidence room of the public safety department has little room left because most of its shelves are holding boxes of confiscated phones. The boxes spill into the dispatch room, where they line the walls and outline the base of the dispatcher's desk, leaving a small path to walk through.

At last count, public safety Director Julia Porter-Stein said, there were 4,566 cell phones tucked into evidence bags, some sitting there since 1993. The sheer volume has become burdensome on the dispatcher who logs them in, and the room has no more space for evidence.

Richmond County confiscates phones for 365 days, but students often don't reclaim them.

The phones are an increasing problem. More phones were seized last school year than in the first six years of the policy. More than 2,000 phones were confiscated in the past two years.

The school board is considering changing the 365-day rule in an effort to clean out the evidence room. The proposal would ease the hard-line stance, replacing it with escalating consequences.

Under the proposal, on the first offense, a parent would have 10 days to claim the phone before it is turned in to public safety. For a second offense, public safety would take the phone for 30 days. If not picked up in the next 10 days, it would be discarded, recycled or donated to charity. On the third offense, the phones would be seized and immediately discarded, recycled or donated.

A decision could come when the board meets June 26. If the rules are changed, the board will also set a deadline for claiming currently confiscated phones.

The board's policy had been to take phones until the end of the year for a first offense. The second time around, the phones were taken permanently. In 2003-04, that was changed to 30 days on the first offense and until the end of the semester on the second offense.

In February 2005, the 365-day rule was instituted after a rash of bomb threats.

Assistant Superintendent Pat Burau surveyed 11 Georgia school systems and Aiken County's earlier this year. None confiscated phones for as long as Richmond County.

Looking at the evidence room, it's obvious the policy hasn't acted as a deterrent, Mrs. Burau said.

Superintendent Dana Bedden joked last week that the phones should be auctioned on eBay, and he later said he will be happy when the school board is out of the cell phone business.

Dr. Bedden said he has never heard of any school system with a rule like Richmond County's.

Reach Greg Gelpi at (706) 828-3851 or greg.gelpi@augustachronicle.com.

IN EVIDENCE

YEAR CONFISCATED RECLAIMED
1993-99 926 91
1999-2000 278 56
2000-01 196 54
2001-02 152 49
2002-03 124 30
2003-04 379 215
2004-05 745 371
2005-06 748 Not available
2006-07 1,081 257
2007-08 1,096 36

Source: Richmond County Board of Education

Comments (27) Add comment
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NEone
6
Points
NEone 06/15/08 - 05:04 am
0
0
Who would want a cell phone

Who would want a cell phone from 1993?

onecatfish
5
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onecatfish 06/15/08 - 05:25 am
0
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You can use a used cell phone
Unpublished

You can use a used cell phone to call 911 without paying anything at all. Cell phones are regulated by the FCC. FCC requirements state that ALL cell phones, regardless of status of service (or even the lack of service) must be able to dial 911. Whether you have a telephone number or not, whether you have signed up for service or not, your cell phone can connect to 911.

Give them to the poor that cant pay for phone service at home. Maybe just maybe one for those phones could save a life. I hope this will help you with your problem

55 F-100
1
Points
55 F-100 06/15/08 - 05:29 am
0
0
The Richmond County school

The Richmond County school system's cell phone confiscation policy is a policy which the state of Georgia should use as a model for all other school systems to adopt and strictly enforce. The answer for the inventory of confiscated cell phones is to donate the phones to the effort to provide phones at no charge to military personnel/families.
For all of those who complain about the confiscation because they "worked hard for that money to buy the phone for their little precious child", they need to stop and wonder about how many lives may have been saved because their children may have actually had to pay attention to what they were doing while driving, walking, etc. because they did not haave a phone stuck to their ear!!!
KUDOS to the Richmond County School System, and may the confiscation of cell phones and donations of unclaimed phones to military personell/families policy be adopted by all school systems statewide as soon as possible.

No_Longer_Amazed
5146
Points
No_Longer_Amazed 06/15/08 - 05:51 am
0
0
IMHO the "no phones" policy

IMHO the "no phones" policy is a good one and should be continued. When Dr. Bedden said he has never heard of any school system with a rule like Richmond County's, what was he talking about: the 365-day rule or the confiscation of phones? The fact that the confiscated phones are not being reclaimed could mean the parents did not know their children had them in the first place.

No_Longer_Amazed
5146
Points
No_Longer_Amazed 06/15/08 - 05:54 am
0
0
Make it as 365/365 policy.

Make it as 365/365 policy. Loose it for 365 days, then if it is not claimed after another 365 days dispose of it. Donated it to charity, sell it, etc.

trucksareforgirlz
0
Points
trucksareforgirlz 06/15/08 - 06:37 am
0
0
On the first offense

On the first offense confiscate the phone for 10 days with a note to the parent(s), regardless of whether the phone is in the parent(s)' name or the teen's name. School is for learning and studying. Chatting with buddies can be accomplished between classes. Treat the offense like any other school offense. The parent(s) will know that the teen didn't "lose" the phone, but broke a school rule and had it taken. Make it mandatory a parent pick up phone and return it to the teen; keep the parent involved in the child's education. I can't remember ANY parent wanting to take time off from work to deal with a discipline problem at school (yes, it's a discipline problem). If the parent of the teen has a backbone, I'm betting the offense will only happen one time for the offending student. The parent may possibly lay down stricter rules at home for cell phone use and this may curb the offenses at school. For any offense after the first, donate it immediately to troops, to women's shelters, or to other charity groups. Turn the cell phone offense into something positive. Also, if the cell phone offenses reduce, maybe the bomb threats and drug deals will also go down in numbers.

ICAREABOUTKIDS
0
Points
ICAREABOUTKIDS 06/15/08 - 07:41 am
0
0
School personnel should not

School personnel should not have to be burdened by cell phone issues. Instead of investing money in cell phones for children who fail to meet the standards, parents should invest the money in their child's education. Some parents "reward" children with cell phones, clothes, video games and other materialistic items, despite their lack of educational performance. I wonder when was the last time (or how often) a parent actually listened to his/her student read aloud or checked his/her homework.

jerryyoung
1
Points
jerryyoung 06/15/08 - 08:17 am
0
0
I agree with onecatfish.

I agree with onecatfish.

BakersfieldCityLimits
1
Points
BakersfieldCityLimits 06/15/08 - 08:30 am
0
0
Cheif Stein, how about

Cheif Stein, how about following Georgia law as it pertains to the disposal of seized materials not needed for prosocution. No need to reinvent the wheel. I find it amazing that no one connected with the RCBOE police would be aware of what is needed to legally dispose of the cell phones. I bet you that it will fall on the Sheriff's office to fix this problem.

WHATDIDIDO
0
Points
WHATDIDIDO 06/15/08 - 09:14 am
0
0
Donate the phone to the

Donate the phone to the battered women shelter or safe home.

tybee93
0
Points
tybee93 06/15/08 - 09:18 am
0
0
you can also give those

you can also give those phones to the safe home shelter for abused woman. they hand them out so they can call 911 when needed.that was a great idea catfish had too. maybe the school system will take both of these ides into consideration. or sell them to a pawn shop and give the money to the feed a child program for the summer...there are plenty of things to do with them, too bad they cant think of any themselves...

jackfruitpaper833
41
Points
jackfruitpaper833 06/15/08 - 09:29 am
0
0
LOL if the board kept good

LOL if the board kept good records the have the names of the individual student(s) they took them from, GIVE THEM BACK LOL...

jaschild
9
Points
jaschild 06/15/08 - 01:14 pm
0
0
consequences would be a

consequences would be a fitting word for their offense

jaschild
9
Points
jaschild 06/15/08 - 01:15 pm
0
0
some of that $$$ put towards

some of that $$$ put towards cell phones may have been better spent on their education or the school supplies they so lack

jack
10
Points
jack 06/15/08 - 01:36 pm
0
0
Trucks, very good solution.

Trucks, very good solution. I agree ! The kids will tell parents they lost the phone vice took it to school and had it taken from them. Parents then have to cough up $50.00 (if they have insurance) for another one.

Little Lamb
48963
Points
Little Lamb 06/15/08 - 01:43 pm
0
0
Sledgehammer and garbage bag

Sledgehammer and garbage bag sounds good enough for me.

battlecataclysmic
0
Points
battlecataclysmic 06/15/08 - 03:03 pm
0
0
Honestly, the next step

Honestly, the next step should be cell phone confiscation for some of these adults as well. Especially some of you I see on the roads frequently. Swerving into my lane and off the road... Lead by example, and maybe kids wouldn't be so inclined to challenge authority. Because, as it stands, as soon as they get out of high school, they'll just end up doing everything they weren't allowed to.

As It Is
2
Points
As It Is 06/15/08 - 06:33 pm
0
0
Donate them to batterd womens

Donate them to batterd womens shelters or simply google "sale used cell phone" and bring in some money for school safety.

Lucy123
0
Points
Lucy123 06/15/08 - 07:50 pm
0
0
Phones can be donated to

Phones can be donated to battered women's shelters or to soldiers in the military, I got something in the mail about phones for soldiers recently and sent my old cell phone to them.

kat30815
14
Points
kat30815 06/15/08 - 08:25 pm
0
0
I remember when a fight broke

I remember when a fight broke out in my 11th grade literature class. The teacher was out of the room because he got sick from the lunchroom food. I had my phone in my bag, it was off, but I could get to it. I called the front office and they sent the officer to the room. Then they searched the class and took my phone.

However after that, I didn't say squat when I saw a teachers car getting broken into later that year.

yep, cell phones are the devil.

TeachRCBOE
0
Points
TeachRCBOE 06/15/08 - 11:15 pm
0
0
After 90 days if the phones

After 90 days if the phones are not claimed by the parent, they should be donated to Safe Holmes for their domestic violence victims.

Safe at Home
0
Points
Safe at Home 06/16/08 - 06:45 am
0
0
By now the phone batteries

By now the phone batteries are dead and they don't have the chargers so what good are they? Destroy them and start over.

mojo
0
Points
mojo 06/16/08 - 07:35 am
0
0
It's amazing how few folks

It's amazing how few folks see anything wrong with our county schools confiscating and sitting on thousands of cell phones. Undoubtedly most of those phones represent a cell phone contract that someone had to continue to pay. Somehow I think these kids are just saying their phone was lost and getting a replacement.

jaschild
9
Points
jaschild 06/16/08 - 09:25 am
0
0
rules are rules, mojo.

rules are rules, mojo. surely the kids didn't do anything wrong - yea right

mover5
0
Points
mover5 06/16/08 - 12:03 pm
0
0
sledgehammer and garbage bag,

sledgehammer and garbage bag, thats a good way to kill a mouse.

voluptuously_auburn1
0
Points
voluptuously_auburn1 06/16/08 - 01:05 pm
0
0
Donate the phones to Batter

Donate the phones to Batter Women's Shelters and the like ... these phones can be reprogrammed to dial 911 only at no charge, and can provide a measure of safety to people. Stupid policy to start with - thanks GOD that idiot Charles Larke is gone from office.

tignolly
0
Points
tignolly 06/16/08 - 02:34 pm
0
0
I just wonder how many of you

I just wonder how many of you commenting have children in school. I think most of you are a bunch of ignorant busy bodies. In my child's school system, they don't even give you a chance to get your phone back it is just confiscated to not be returned.
Bussing is not safe for a teen girl where I live and so my daughter keeps her phone on her for emergencies. She doesn't sit in class and chat on it. Just as one other girl on here has said she kept it in her purse for EMERGENCIES.
Now I have had to fork out almost $200 for a new phone, because the school system has decided they could STEAL my phone.
Yes getting technical, it is stealing when you take something that doesn't belong to you and will not return it. I truly believe we pay enough in taxes that when I come to the school and request a phone be returned - RETURN IT!

gnx
7
Points
gnx 06/16/08 - 04:26 pm
0
0
Soooo sorry tignolly, but my

Soooo sorry tignolly, but my kids and the children of countless others in this area made it just fine through school without a cell phone or pager. If the bus isn't safe for your daughter then you need to talk that over with the principal, then the school board or simply lawyer up. If the school board says your child isn't supposed to have a cell phone at school they mean it - no exceptions. As for the school system needing to contact the owners of the confiscated phones to return them? If the kids really need or want them they'll make arrangements to get those phones back.

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