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Senate passes bill to restrict cell phone use in class, now heads to House

A faceless person holds an iPhone with a blue case.
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A bill to restrict the use of wireless communication devices in classrooms passed the Senate this week and will advance to the House.

A bill that restricts the use of cellphones by students in classrooms unanimously passed the Senate Tuesday and will now head to the House. The bill requires school districts and charter schools to develop rules around the use of wireless communication devices.

In addition to cell phones, Senate Bill 185 would restrict students from using tablets, laptops, and gaming devices during instructional time unless approved by a teacher for educational purposes.

There are exceptions, like in the event of an emergency, if a student requires a device to manage their health care and for students who use such devices as part of an individualized education program.

Sen. Jeff Raatz (R-Richmond), the bill’s author, said this bill is a way to reduce distractions and improve student outcomes.

“There’s all kinds of data out there that show that (these devices are) distractive to learning, and as we try to increase outcomes in the state, this is one way I believe that we can accomplish that,” he said.

READ MORE: How do I follow Indiana’s legislative session? Here’s your guide to demystify the process

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Raatz said there is still ample opportunity for educators to utilize technology in their classrooms. He said many districts already have rules about technology in some degree, but the bill will create uniform guidelines across the state.

“A lot of school districts have policies in place,” he said. “I think this sets a minimum requirement. They could go farther if they want to, but it sets the standards on ways they have to do it.”

Kirsten is our education reporter. Contact her at kadair@wfyi.org or follow her on Twitter at @kirsten_adair.

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Kirsten the Indiana Public Broadcasting education reporter. Contact her at kadair@wfyi.org or follow her on Twitter at @kirsten_adair.