An earlier draft of the proposal would have banned all use of cell phones and personal electronic devices by drivers, regardless of whether they used hands-free features.
Some board members said hands-free devices are safer than dialing and holding a phone. And they argued that many new cars are equipped with Bluetooth hands-free technology, making it nearly impossible to tell if drivers are using the phone or talking to a passenger.
"I don't want to put school staff in a position where they're' getting into fights with people, asking if them if they are on a Bluetooth," Board member
But even if a parent insists on driving with their phone stuck to the ear, school officials say there may be little they can do, making the policy little more than a recommendation. They would have a tough time collecting any fines they tried to impose on parents or visitors, and they have no plans to ban violators from picking up their children.
"This is more of a culture-driven policy so that school administrators have something to help prevent behavior," said
Many schools already have signs saying cell phone use is banned during drop-off and pickup. School administrators say they have tried to tell parents to put their phones down, but have often met resistance when they can't point to a specific law or district policy banning the practice.
The state outlawed texting while driving a year ago, but talking on the phone is legal, regardless of whether hands-free devices are used.
"This is about safety. People are distracted. They're going to hit a child," Board member
The policy, which board members hope to complete in time for the new school year, would apply to any parents, students, employees or visitors using any vehicles on schools on any school district property. While the focus is on parent pickup and drop-off, school officials say they've seen other troubling cell phone usage from employees.
"We've had mechanics working on brakes underneath the bus talking on cell phones," said
The district hasn't been able to discipline employees in these situations because there hasn't been a policy prohibiting cell phone use. There are policies designed to limit student cell phone use, and prevent bus drivers from talking on the phone.
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