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School fight ends up on Youtube

FORT IRWIN — Cell phone footage of a recent Fort Irwin Middle School fight went online at www.youtube.com soon after a school board discussion about cell phones on campus.

According to school resource officer Deputy Luke Dilbeck of the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department’s Barstow station, a fight between two students occurred on Wednesday. After the fight, someone posted a video of the fight on the user-submitted Internet video site www.youtube.com. According to sheriff’s logs, a 14-year-old girl was arrested for suspicion of a misdemeanor count of battery in connection with the fight.

Sgt. Rob Ciolli said the video was captured on a students’ cell phone. Silver Valley parents, teachers and school board members discussed student cell phone use at a school board meeting on April 10. The current Silver Valley policy allows students to have cell phones on campus, but they must be turned off during class.

Although school board members agreed cell phones can be disruptive during the school day, they upheld the current policy. Some board members said having a phone could be a safety issue.

Chris Samuel, a teacher at Yermo School and president of the Silver Valley Education Association, asked the board to review the district’s cell phone policy five years ago and at the April meeting. She said the policy is not being enforced and does not punish habitual on-campus cell phone use.

“They aren’t off. They do go off in class, and they do use them inappropriately,” she said.

Students have, she said, used cell phones to cheat on tests, send text messages and take inappropriate photos and videos of fights.

Students were caught cheating on exams and advance placement tests at Serrano High School in Phelan in 2004. A camera phone was also used in a Snowline Unified School District middle school locker room while students were changing for gym class.

Current Silver Valley board policy prohibits phones with cameras on campus.

Parental concern over the cell phone as a safety tool for students is not an issue at Silver Valley, Samuel said, because the district does have ways to get a hold of parents in the event of a crisis.

Heather Griggs, principal at Silver Valley High School, said the school follows the board’s policy and has had no problems with cell phone use by its students.

Kenneth Trump, president of the National School Safety and Security Services, a national school safety consulting firm in Cleveland, Ohio, said many schools are dealing with the student cell phone issue.

“Parents and students are pressuring school administrators to allow students to carry cell phones for safety reasons when actually it’s driven by parental and student convenience,” he said.,

Trump said that during emergencies and crises, a student population armed with cell phones could do more damage than good. A student attempting to narrate the events of a crisis on a cell could miss important instructions, he said. Cell phones accelerate rumors and parental “flocking,” which could result in evacuation delays in the event of a crisis, he said.

“It’s often times more of a security blanket for the parents,” Trump said. “But there’s a difference between feeling safer and being safer.”

Many states and schools reconsidered cell phone bans in the wake of the Columbine shootings eight years ago, Sept. 11, 2001, and the recent Virginia Tech massacre.

A search on www.youtube.com for “school fight” returned about 15,800 videos on Friday.


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