NYC Lifts School Cellphone Ban

Former Mayor Michael Bloomberg's ban on cellphones in New York City schools has been lifted.

by / January 7, 2015
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio says lifting the ban on cellphones in schools respects families, and it will end the unequal enforcement that has penalized students at so many high-needs schools. Flickr/Kevin Case

A ban on cellphones in New York City schools implemented by former Mayor Michael Bloomberg will soon be lifted, according to officials. The NYC Department of Education announced Jan. 7 that the sometimes-enforced ban will be lifted, according to a press release.

“Parents should be able to call or text their kids," Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a statement. "That’s something [my wife] Chirlane and I felt ourselves when [our daughter] Chiara took the subway to high school in another borough each day, and we know it’s a sentiment parents across this city share."

Lifting the ban respects families, he added, and it will end the unequal enforcement that has penalized students at so many high-needs schools. "We are giving educators the tools and the flexibility to make this change responsibly,” de Blasio said.

Since the ban was established, some schools instated a don’t-ask, don’t-tell policy where cellphones were concerned, while other schools, particularly those with metal detectors, strictly enforced the ban, according to The New York Times.

Under the existing regulation, students are required to leave their cellphones at home or outside the school building, often incurring a daily charge for private storage that can cost a family, on average, $180 each year. 

Some parents complained about the ban, citing a need to stay in contact with their children, and the ban’s lift is the delivery of a promise made by de Blasio during his campaign. 

Some, such as administrators in schools with many troubled students, oppose the ban’s lift, saying they worry about the risk of cheating, theft, and that cellphones can add fuel to incidences of violence. 

“Kids are going to stage fights so they can put up posts on social media,” one anonymous administrator told the Times

The ban’s lift will leave the formation of new cellphone rules, or lack thereof, to the discretion of each school, its teachers and parents.