New York City due to end ban on cellphones in schools: reports

Reuters News
Posted: Jan 07, 2015 10:05 AM

NEW YORK (Reuters) - New York City is expected to announce on Wednesday the end of its ban on students bringing their cellphones into the city's public schools, newspapers reported.

Under the new rules, principals in the largest school system in the United States will be allowed to devise their own cellphone policy, or use a default policy of allowing students to bring their phones to school as long as they remain out of sight, the reports said.

Mayor Bill de Blasio, who was scheduled to make an announcement at a Brooklyn school Wednesday afternoon, said while running for office in 2013 that he wanted to end the ban put in place by his predecessor, Michael Bloomberg.

It was important for parents to be able to contact their children before and after school, he has said, citing concerns he and his wife had as the parents of two teenaged children attending city public schools.

The ban has given rise to a cottage industry of cellphone storage businesses near schools across the city. Countless students stash their phones at nearby grocery stores or in vans that roam outside school gates for a small fee, typically a dollar or so.

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Carmen Fariña, the city's schools chancellor, said "it is critical for families to stay in touch with their children before and after school" in a column in the New York Daily News on Wednesday. She said some families spent some $180 on a student's phone storage fees in a year.

About 1.1 million students attend one of New York City's public schools.

(Reporting by Jonathan Allen; Editing by Bill Trott)