Schools to strengthen security

CLINTON — Increased student cellphone use in Clinton schools is forcing officials to reform district Information Technology policies.

While details are still being mulled over, plans are in the works to greatly strengthen the district’s wireless internet network security at buildings such as Clinton High School in an attempt to cut down on in-class cellphone usage.

Information Technology officials Kelly Wright and Brad Hancock spoke with school board members this week, explaining that student cellphones have begun using a large chunk of the network bandwidth, potentially clogging and slowing down the network when it comes time to use it for educational purposes.

“As we monitored the situation, we noticed a variety of things going on with student and staff cellphones that were connected to our network instead of their own cellphone plans,” Wright said. “We were noticing that large (software) updates were taking up our bandwidth, and we noticed social media like Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter and Instagram.”

CHS Principal J.R. Kuch said the building’s cellphone policy mandates that students are allowed to check their phones only between class periods and at lunch, though obviously there are still many instances of use in class. Should a student be caught with their cellphone during class, the first offense warrants the student bringing the phone to the main office.

A second offense means the student will be forced to turn the phone in to the office for 10 consecutive school days, while a third offense will bring a 60-day sentence. A fourth offense will be recognized as insubordination, potentially warranting a suspension.

Officials also brought into consideration the subject of online bullying, and whether there could be possible liability concerns if a student were to be cyber-bullied using the district’s public network.

While there are a few cases of students using the network for educational purposes, the incorrect use far outweighs those instances, prompting the change.

“We do have students who use it appropriately, but unfortunately they’re the ones who will be penalized through all this,” Wright said. “But there are only a few versus many.”