City Councilman Lew Fidler penned a letter to Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott last week demanding the abolition of the public school cell phone ban, which has been in place since 2006.
The letter, backed by 47 of the Council’s 51 members, called the rule “out of touch” and “possibly discriminatory,” stating that the rule is mostly enforced in schools that use metal detectors, which happen to be in poorer areas, while prestigious schools are not affected. Parents have also been critics of the ban, particularly those with children who have long commutes.
The ban has also been criticized for taking money out of lower income student’s pockets, who pay $1 a day to store their phones in mobile trucks or local bodegas. The $5 per week can add up for lower income students, while the mobile trucks make an estimated $4.2 million per year. The Department of Education has opposed efforts to implement in-school storage facilities, arguing that the liability to store thousands of phones is too high.
The four members of Council who opposed the bill and the Education department have yet to comment on the letter.
– Justin Santoro