EDUCATION + SCHOOLS

One Utah lawmaker wants to ban cellphones in classrooms

Jan 30, 2023, 8:30 PM | Updated: 10:23 pm

Utah State Representative Jeffrey Stenquist is sponsoring H.B. 303, which would prohibit school off...

Utah State Representative Jeffrey Stenquist is sponsoring H.B. 303, which would prohibit school officials from discussing political beliefs.  (Photo: Adobe Stock)

(Photo: Adobe Stock)

SALT LAKE CITY — As the 2023 Utah Legislative Session enters its third week, there are still plenty of items up for discussion. One Utah lawmaker is hoping to have a bill that will ban cellphones in classrooms up for debate. 

Rep. Trevor Lee (R-Layton) joined Dave and Dujanovic with Dave Noriega and Debbie Dujanovic on Monday to discuss H.B. 270.

Dujanovic said, “So walk us through your proposal, and how it would work if it got signed into law.”

Cellphones ban in classrooms

Lee says he has had numerous teachers reach out to him. They have asked for help in regard to cellphones during class time.

“So essentially, what my bill is if you are in elementary school,” Lee said. “There should be a cubby or some sort of holster for phones that when you walk into the classroom for the day, you have to put your phone up and there it remains until the end of class.”

The bill would also work the same way for middle school and high school students.

“So for middle school and high school, it would be a cubby for every classroom,” Lee said. “As you go into the class, you deposit your phone there. And then when class is over, you pick it up and leave. Pretty simple.”

The Deseret News reports that students in 7-12 grades would be allowed to use their devices between classes and at lunch. 

Lee says the bill isn’t big. However, it gives the districts the power to enforce it. He says there are obvious exceptions to this such as medical use or emergencies.

Any wiggle room?

Noriega asked “Does the school have to abide by this law? How much wiggle room is there?”

“I don’t want to make this a state policy necessarily,” Lee said. “Such as I want to empower teachers to be able to have teeth behind saying ‘hey cellphones have become a massive distraction in the classroom. And you know if I say it needs to be taken, it needs to be taken.’ And I want them to be able to be backed up with some type of law.”

However, he stresses that he wants districts and even some teachers in their classrooms to have full control over this.

Enforcement of the cellphones ban

Dujanovic asked “What does enforcement look like?”

Lee says there is one thing interesting about him running this bill. He and three other legislators right now were the only ones to have cellphones while they were in school.

“So, we have a unique perspective on it,” he said. “And I’ve watched over the last 12 years how it’s just completely got out of control and enforcement is going to be the same as anything (not allowed at school).”

Lee says Utah, just like the rest of the country, is having a hard time retaining teachers. And the main reason for that, according to Lee, is behavioral problems. 

“Cellphones are just adding to that issue,” he said. “So if we want to retain good teachers and we want to maximize the benefit of our kids in the school system. There is no need to have a cellphone out.”

 

Dave & Dujanovic can be heard weekdays from 9 a.m. to noon. on KSL NewsRadio. Users can find the show on the KSL NewsRadio website and app, as well as Apple Podcasts and Google Play.  

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One Utah lawmaker wants to ban cellphones in classrooms