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M-P board approves new communication device policies

The Mobridge-Pollock School Board, Monday, Aug. 12, heard the guidelines of a revised cell phone policy that will be included in the new student handbook.
M-P High School Principal Holly Randall reported on several changes to the handbook but concentrated on cell phone use in the school and the steps staff will take for those who disobey the rules set by the district.
The policy states the recognition of the importance of communication and collaboration within academic and social settings in classrooms and throughout school buildings. The new policy, which will go into effect when school starts on Tuesday, Aug. 20, defines what devices will be considered portable communications devices and fall under the new policy.
Portable communications devices are cell phones, smartwatches, and any other portable device not specifically mentioned which is used for communication.
Electronic devices include any personal electronic device that is used by a student to play or listen to music/audio, communicate with others (including online communication), access media, take pictures, or otherwise cause distractions to a student’s education.
These devices fall under the following restrictions:
• Portable communications and electronic devices that are brought into the school building must be powered off and kept in the owner’s backpack or locker. Students may not carry, display, or use portable communications and electronic devices in the school building at any time during the instructional school day.
• For purposes of this student handbook manual, the “instructional school day” is defined as the moment a student enters the school building until the final dismissal bell. The “instructional school day” includes study halls, lunch breaks, class changes, and any other structured or non-structured instructional activity that occurs during the normal school day.
The 2019-2020 school year begins the one-to-one laptop program providing each student with a new school-issued laptop computer. Students will have email addresses with these laptops.

Unless this system is abused, parents will be able to communicate with parents or guardians through the email system.
Randall, as designee of the policy, will have the discretion to make exceptions on a case-to-case basis, such as with a student using the phone to track blood sugar levels or other health issues.
Students may request permission to use the school phone to contact parents/guardians for emergencies within the school day. Parents or guardians are asked to call the school when they are in need of contacting a student.
The policy calls for a three-offense guideline in dealing with students who disregard the policy. This does include the administration confiscating the devices after the second or third infraction and getting parents involved when students ignore the rules.
That part of the policy is still being reviewed and will be explained in detail in the student handbook.

New hires
Superintendent Tim Frederick reported to the board that the district has hired three teachers to fill positions left open through retirements or resignations this year.
Those positions have been filled by Dr. James Padilla, who will teach high school English; Alfie Gonzales, who has been hired as the high school/middle school band instructor; and Natalie Hayes who will teach middle school/high school art with an alternative certification waiver. This means a waiver has been granted until certification in the field of instruction can be obtained through classes or through testing.
The board approved the hires.
The board also approved the resignation of Cody Stotz as a high school English instructor with a late resignation penalty of $1,000. Stotz has taken a job as an administrator in the McLaughlin School District, which has agreed to pay the fine.

Public forum
At the beginning of the meeting, Frederick explained the parameters of the public forum portion of the meeting, including what is open to discussion at that time and time limits. He told the board that public attacks on students or staff will not be allowed at that time. Those who wish to discuss problems with teachers, staff or other students must go through the set procedure pertaining to those issues.
Public discussion will be limited to five minutes per speaker.