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Judge upholds cell phone ban

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A judge knocked out parents’ legal challenge to the city’s ban of cell phones in public schools -- but the fight isn’t over yet.

“We’re going to keep fighting. We still think that it’s against our constitutional rights,” asserted Carmen Colon, one of eight parents who filed a lawsuit against the city demanding that the ban be overturned. “We’re going to fight all the way to the Supreme Court if we have to.”

The Appellate Court ruled in favor of the city and determined that, “The cell phone ban does not directly and substantially interfere with any of the rights alleged by the parents.”

“Nothing about the cell phone policy forbids or prevents parents and their children from communicating with each other before or after school,” the court concluded. “The chancellor reasonably determined that a ban on cell phone possession was necessary to maintain order in the schools.”

The city Department of Education (DOE) insists the ban prevents students from sending text messages during class and interrupting lessons with ringing phones.

But parents say cell phones are necessary so they can remain in touch with their children in the event of an emergency and to ensure that the youths make it to and from school safely.

The City Council has gotten involved in the battle by passing legislation in the hope of pressuring the DOE to eliminate its cell phone ban.

While parents seemed grateful to have the support of politicians, they called the legislation “meaningless” because the City Council has no authority to regulate in-school policies.

As parents and city officials wage war in court, it seems local schools are taking matters into their own hands.

Parents say many schools maintain a “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy allowing students to bring cell phones to school but not use them.

“Principals are quietly reverting back to the way it was before the stupid ban was implemented,” Colon said. “What will happen is in 2009, the next mayor and chancellor, if they have half a brain, will simply revert the policy back to the way it was

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