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Bloomberg Should Heed Council and End Cell Phone Ban, NYCLU Says

The New York Civil Liberties Union applauded a New York City Council vote expected today that would pressure the mayor to allow cell phones in schools.

Though New York City has had a school cell phone ban for years, students carried them without much consequence until last year when the city began random security checks as part of a crackdown on weapons. Hundreds of cell phones were confiscated instead.

The NYCLU has consistently called on Mayor Bloomberg and the Department of Education to revisit the rule. The vote today would allow students to carry phones to and from school, but only Bloomberg can lift the ban inside school walls. The NYCLU has argued that the cell phone ban disrupts the education of New York City’s children by distracting them and their teachers from the business of learning, putting them in frequent confrontations with police personnel and wasting class time. The organization has also received numerous complaints from parents whose children must use cell phones to contact them before and after school.

The following can be attributed to NYCLU Executive Director Donna Lieberman:

“The Department of Education’s counterproductive cell phone ban has interfered with education and stopped parents from communicating with their children before and after school, and we’re pleased that the New York City Council is trying to minimize its impact. Still troubling is Mayor Bloomberg’s stonewalling on this issue, behavior that raises questions about the system of mayoral control of New York City’s schools with little to no accountability except at election time. The Council should now address the broader problem of heavy-handed police involvement in our schools and the utter lack of accountability for police abuses in the hallways. What our schools need are policies that both protect safety and promote a nurturing educational environment.”

The NYCLU’s report on policing in schools, which addresses the cell phone policy among other approaches to school discipline, is available online at

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