Pasco County school district considering cell phone ban

The Pasco County school district began sending out a survey Wednesday to principals, teachers, parents and students asking for feedback regarding the use of cell phones in schools, as district leaders consider banning the devices.

A district spokesperson said the survey, called a "Thought Exchange," will help board members decide if and when they will hold a workshop to discuss the cell phone policy.

This comes after John Legg, a candidate for Pasco Schools superintendent and co-founder of Dayspring Academy charter school, urged the school board to consider banning cell phones at all times during the school day.

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"It was almost like a drug, like they couldn't stop using it. No matter how many times you told them, they just couldn't stop," said Legg, adding he instituted the policy at his charter school and saw an immediate difference. "Our teachers are able to teach content more. The students are interacting, they play games at lunch, they're talking to each other. There's more socialization. They want their cell phones, don't get me wrong. The students, if you gave them the choice, they would divert back to being on their cell phones. But the engagement of the students being together has significantly increased."

Under the district's current policy, schools can allow students to be on their phones in between classes, during their free periods, and before and after school.

 Alison Crumbley, the school board's vice chair, said she's open to discussing a policy change.

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"It has definitely grown over the years as the use of [cell phones] has grown," Crumbley said. "There have been some situations where some pranks, so to speak, have been pulled during class time or during passing times in the schools and, talk about disruption, the school has to stop, potentially [go on] lock down."

Crumbley said the issue goes beyond the disruption caused by cell phones. She points to studies that have shown children often experience mental health problems stemming from overusing their smartphones and social media.

"The mental health aspect, as far as I'm concerned, is one of the most important parts," she said. "I do know that we have some problems that we are really trying to prevent from happening or from getting worse."

Board chair Megan Harding also confirmed to FOX 13 she'd be in favor of discussing a possible policy change. Cumbley expects a workshop to occur after board members see the results of the survey.