Bibb County school board reconsiders ‘Bring Your Own Device’ policy


The rules may soon change for Bibb County students using cellphones at school.

The Board of Education is looking to revise its policy on students’ use of personal electronic devices in classrooms. A new proposed policy was presented for the first time at Thursday’s regular meeting.

The district has not updated its policy on students’ use of electronic devices since 2018, when it first allowed employees and students to bring personal electronic devices to use for educational purposes. The policy was implemented as the district was working to supply each student with a school-issued device.

Now that every student has a district-owned device, Board Member Daryl Morton said he no longer sees a need for students to have cellphones in the classroom.

Morton said he was recently contacted by a local TV station and asked to comment on a video that depicted a teacher being assaulted by another student. Another student took the video and posted it on Facebook.

Morton said he called the district’s central office to ask about the situation and was told the teacher didn’t know anything about it and was embarrassed.“It troubles me that we have students who are videoing at school not to say, ‘Oh, I’ve got a video of something that happened to turn over to an administrator,’ but to use that situation to bring attention to themselves and also to embarrass our employees,” Morton said.

Teachers have discretion on whether students in their classrooms are allowed to use personal devices, Morton said, “but I’m beginning to question whether there’s any use for a cell phone in a classroom given the 1-to-1 technology initiative we have where every student has an electronic device.”

The incident describes several violations of the district’s current policy that prohibits students and employees from recording or taking pictures of others in school without approval from a teacher. The policy also states “the distribution of any unauthorized media may result in discipline including but not limited to suspension, criminal charges and expulsion.”

The matter is slated to be taken up again at the April meeting.

“I’m glad we’re looking at this because it has gotten a bit out of control,” Morton said.

Board member Juawn Jackson said Central High School has had “great success” with prohibiting cell phones in classrooms.

In other business, the board approved hiring three principals and dozens of assistant principals.New principals include: Keisha Wallace-Dawson at Lane Elementary School, Donna Cline at Heritage Elementary School and Kizzie Lott at Bruce Elementary School.

Also at Thursday’s meeting, the board approved a $98,000 settlement with an employee whose lower back was injured when a student ran into her. The employee developed a pain disorder associated with inflammation of a spinal membrane.

In other business, the board approved:

  • $297,000 to Vista Higher Learning for Spanish and French textbooks.
  • $134,500 to The Princeton Review – for online tutoring services and homework assistance paid for using American Rescue Plan money.
  • A $53,880 per month contract with Cox Business to provide a Wide Area Network connectivity between all Bibb Schools locations and internet access for the 2022-2023 school year.
  • $772,383 to Sheridan Construction for renovations to the Westside Tennis Center to be paid for using money from the district’s Capital Projects Fund account.
  • $648,566 to International City Builders for the construction of an Agriculture Barn at Rutland Middle and High Schools to be paid for with American Rescue Plan (CTAE) money.
  • $10,496,357 to International City Builders for renovations to Miller Middle School to be paid for with 2021 ESPLOST money.
  • $5,997,120 to International City Builders for renovations to Union Elementary School to be paid for using 2021 ESPLOST money.
  • $187,437.30 to Utah-based Audio Enhancement for SAFE Alert equipment to expand alert system technology in all school gyms and cafeterias. Additional receivers in these areas will allow any district employee with a microphone to be able to quickly alert the front office and administration in the event of an emergency.
  • $171,750 to Wade Ford of Smyrna for 5 police intercept SUVs for campus police.
  • Declaration of 14 Blue Bird school buses as surplus property to be sold.
  • $1,564,500 to Yancey Bus Sales for a dozen new school buses.
  • Request to submit a request for state approval to roll over $314,793 in total unused money from fiscal year 2021 to be applied to fiscal year 2022 to continue the 21st Century Community Learning Centers at Ballard-Hudson Middle School and also Bruce, Hartley, Heritage, Bernd, John R. Lewis, Skyview, Heard, Southfield and Veterans elementary schools. The funding supports after-school summer programs that provide homework help and nutritious snacks. Students in the program are at risk of failing core academic subjects.

To contact Civic Journalism Fellow Laura Corley, email [email protected] or call 478-301-5777.