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RU going to jail over TXT IM?

Submitted by on Thursday, 19 February 2009 2 Comments

Rule of thumb for the guys: You won’t get in nearly as much trouble for what you do as you will for lying about it.

That’s what a 14-year-old Wisconsin girl found out last week when she was arrested after sending text messages in class. Or, more precisely, she was arrested after she refused to give up her cell phone when her teacher caught her texting in class.

According to the police report, the school resource officer was called in, and the girl continued to deny that she had a phone. You have to wonder why a texting-in-class incident, the type of which happens hundreds of times a day in schools every where – warranted a visit from the campus cop, but it appears this girl might have authority issues. More on that later.

The campus cop was unable to crack the case, so he called the local police to remove the girl from class. The teen continued to insist she didn’t have a phone, but the fact that her pants were unzipped and she kept squirming made the police officer suspect otherwise.

It was only after a female officer who had been called in “recovered” a Samsung Cricket – dimensions 3.6 inches by 1.8 inches by .85 inches – “from the buttocks area” that the girl admitted she’d been on the phone.

She was charged with disorderly conduct, a misdemeanor that carries a $298 fine. She also was suspended from school for a week and told she would be charged with trespassing if she showed up. She was cited each of the next two days.

Neither the story nor the arrest report mentions the district’s policy on cell phones, other than that texting in class isn’t allowed. That seems almost too common sense to even have to put in policy, any more than schools had to have officials policies against passing notes in the Flintstone-like times before preteens started toting cell phones.

There’s no need revisiting the argument about whether cell phones are essential for kids. For a tiny minority, they are, but for most it’s a case of confusing a “need” with a “want.” But that battle’s so tired and fraught with “adults just don’t understand” that resistance is futile.

Bans used to be the vogue, but schools found them difficult to enforce – New York City installed metal detectors, but students are creative. So are nearby businesses that offer cell-phone parking during school hours, for a small fee.

So most districts have allowed for peaceful co-existance. Carry the phone, because your parents are going to squawk if you can’t, but don’t use it during class.

And certainly don’t keep texting after you teacher asks you to quit. And above all, don’t cram the phone down your pants in an attempt to hide it when the police show up.

The cost of doing so: $298 and a week-long suspension.

Copyright 2009 Debra Legg. All rights reserved.

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  • Leslie K. said:

    why wasn’t this kid taught to just own up to being caught at something?

  • Debra said:

    That’s what I was wondering, too, Leslie.

    If she’d just admitted she’d been texting and handed over the phone, it would have been the modern-day equivalent of getting busted passing notes in class. Own up to it and everyone gets to move on. Unless she’s a repeat offender – and she might have been, because the police report refers to “past negative contacts” with her – she would have gotten the phone back after class and it would have been done with.

    Instead, everyone – and there were at least four administrators involved, plus the campus cop PLUS two regular police officers and now court time – spent a lot of time dealing with something that should have taken, oh, five minutes.

    This town would have to be a real Mayberry for all those folks to have nothing better than this to do.