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Comments by YACCS
Friday, July 14, 2006

Why can't their nannies pick them up?

School Cellphone Ban Violates Rights of Parents, Lawsuit Says

Published: July 14, 2006

Carmen Colon, a divorced mother raising three sons in Bedford Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, considers herself a law-abiding citizen. But New York City’s ban on students carrying cellphones in the schools is one rule she will not abide by, she said yesterday.

Until he graduated last year, her oldest, Devin, 17, traveled more than an hour each way, taking two subway trains from their home in Brooklyn to Washington Irving High School in Manhattan near Union Square.

Her middle son, Andre, 13, also has an hourlong trip on the A and L trains to his public school, the Institute for Collaborative Education, at 15th Street and First Avenue.

Because Ms. Colon works full-time at Keyspan, the Brooklyn gas company, she relies on the older children to take care of the youngest one after school. Devin and Andre use their cellphones to coordinate who will pick up Taylor, who is going into fifth grade at Public School 261 in Brooklyn.

So her sons, she said, will keep taking their cellphones to school.

“If the Department of Education doesn’t like it, they can sue me,” Ms. Colon said.

For now, it is Ms. Colon who is doing the suing.

She is one of eight parents — along with a citywide parent association — who filed a lawsuit yesterday against Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, Schools Chancellor Joel I. Klein and the city’s Department of Education, seeking to overturn the city’s rule banning students from carrying cellphones in schools.

The parents argue, in papers filed in State Supreme Court in Manhattan, that the ban is so broad and blunt that it violates their constitutional right as parents to keep their children safe and to raise them in the way they see fit.

The ban violates their due process right to personal liberty under both the state and federal constitutions, they said, because it interferes with the relationship between parents and their children, without a compelling education reason for doing so.

The constitutional claim echoes arguments raised more than a decade ago by parents who sought to overturn a policy by Chancellor Joseph Fernandez of providing condoms to public school students. In 1993, a state appellate court upheld the parents’ right to decide whether their children should receive condoms
Norman Siegel, a civil liberties lawyer who has taken on the lawsuit free of charge along with David Leichtman, a partner in the law firm of Morgan, Lewis & Bockius, said yesterday that he was not arguing that children should be able to use their phones during school hours, only before and after.

At a news conference announcing the suit in Lower Manhattan yesterday, the parents came to the microphone one after the other to tell his or her own cellphone horror story, sounding like Soviet dissidents resisting an oppressive regime.

Isaac Carmignani, who works nights as an electronic technician for the Postal Service, said his only child, Raven, was stranded outside her locked school alone last fall when he was late to pick her up.

Raven, 9, who just finished fourth grade at P.S. 122 in Astoria, Queens, had a cellphone and was able to call her father on his cellphone. Since then, he will not let her leave home without putting the phone in her backpack. “I tell her not to take it out during school, not to show it to anyone,” he said yesterday.

Carmella Price, a single mother in the Bronx, said her youngest daughter, Lashea, 12, had been threatened by a group of boys on the way home from school and was able to call her sister, Charlene, 14, for help.

“This is a safety issue,” Ms. Price said. “It’s not during school. It’s for before and after school.”

This is stupid. This should have been negotiated, not the subject of a lawsuit. But Bloomberg is so afraid of text messaging, he's willing to risk kids lives. All you have to do is confiscate any phone used during class.

But what happens when a kid is assaulted and unable to get help because they don't have a cellphone then. His inflexibility will seem pretty damn stupid then.

Bloomberg has been amazingly unreasonable on this issue, which is quickly shaping up to be his second term Jets Stadium. Given the lives of city kids, a cellphone is not a luxury, it's the only way to keep up with kids who travel to and from school.

Of course it is a status symbol for kids. My niece and nephew were fighting to see who could buy my old cellphone from me. Which I found amusing.

Bloomberg is going to lose, the only question is it will be gracefully or stubbornly.

posted by Steve @ 8:32:00 AM

8:32:00 AM

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