NY City mayor says son takes phone to school, recommits to lifting ban

Reuters News
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Posted: Sep 24, 2014 5:23 PM

By Laila Kearney

NEW YORK (Reuters) - New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio's teenage son, who helped his father's election campaign with a sentimental commercial, may now be influencing his dad to move forward with a new policy for cellphone use in the city's public schools.

While de Blasio ran for mayor on a promise to allow students to carry cell phones to school, after parents complained of not being able to reach their children and of kids scrambling to find places to store their phones, the policy remains in place almost nine months after he took office.

De Blasio said publicly on Tuesday that despite the ban, his 16-year-old son Dante brings a phone to school.

"Dante's school tends to be pretty open, so yes, he brings a cellphone," de Blasio told reporters before saying that he would deliver a timeline in the coming weeks on steps towards a revised school cellphone policy. He offered little detail.

Schools in major cities across the United States, including Boston and Los Angeles, have policies that limit the use of cell phones in schools but still allow students to carry the devices if they are powered down.

Parents are now asking when and how New York's stricter ban, imposed under the Bloomberg administration, would be lifted.

"How difficult is it to lift a cell phone ban?" New York City Parents Union President Mona Davids, whose daughter attends a New York public high school, asked on Wednesday.

Davids said the mayor has no excuse for allowing the first months of his time in office to pass without simply lifting the ban, a move he has the authority to make.

The ban has unevenly affected poor and minority students, many of whom attend schools with metal detectors that can catch cell phones, Davids said.

The New York Department of Education has said the phones are a distraction and a safety hazard, making students targets of phone theft. Department officials said on Wednesday they are reviewing the policy and working with principals to develop a new plan.

(Reporting by Laila Kearney; Editing by James Dalgleish)