The St. Ansgar school district has stopped their plan to install jamming equipment in their middle and high school buildings to block cell phone signals. The St. Ansgar School Board earlier had discussed buying such equipment as they’re frustrated over the growing problem of cell phone use during school hours.
Superintendent Jim Woodward says the district has abandoned the plan to buy a jamming device after learning that federal law bans such jamming devices and prohibits the sale or operation of such machines.
Sam Harding is a spokesman for the Iowa Association of School Boards and a member of the Jefferson-Scranton school board. He says there are concerns about having the jamming equipment turned on when there’s an emergency situation at the school. He says their concern is there may be times when using a cell phone, like a "Columbine situation", would be the best way to communicate with people inside and outside the school.
Harding says the Jefferson-Scranton school board discussed jamming equipment previously and decided it wasn’t the best way to tackle the issue. Harding says the potential safety problems seemed to outweigh the other concerns. Harding says personal electronic devices will continue to be a growing issue with the evolution of "smart phones" and smaller laptops.