New rule at Bullard High: All student cellphones must be locked away during school day

A similar policy is already being practiced at Phoenix Secondary Academy within Fresno Unified.

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ByNic Garcia via KFSN logo
Wednesday, August 10, 2022
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Bullard High School students will have to lock their cellphones away in a pouch for the duration of the school day.

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Bullard High School is about to launch the new school year with what some consider a drastic new rule.

Students will have to lock their cellphones away in a pouch for the duration of the school day.

The cellphones will be locked in a secure pouch, called Yondr.

Students can keep the pouch with them throughout the day, but it won't be unlocked until dismissal.

You can imagine how controversial a decision like this is.

Many entertainment venues use the pouches for concerts and shows to keep audiences engaged - and prevent online leaks from concerts and shows.

But in this case, the venue is the classroom, and the goal, according to board trustee Terry Slatic, is improving education.

He points to the success of other schools adopting similar policies, including current Bullard principal Armen Torigian's last campus, Tenaya Middle School.

"That was relatively easy to implement with 12- and 13-year-olds with 900 kids on the campus. Here we've got 2,600 kids, 18..17..16..15-year-olds, it's a little harder to get them to shift that course, they don't do it," he says.

"I walk as a trustee into classrooms in the back and observe and I'll see 34 kids in classrooms and over the course of the period 16 of them don't even put their phones down," adds Slatic.

One concern among some parents - getting in touch with their child during an emergency.

"I don't think they should be away totally locked up. If they become a nuisance during class time, I understand them having rules and regulations and not having them on the phones during school time," said Francine Encinas. "In the event an emergency should happen, if you got that little message across - some communication would be better than not hearing from them at all."

Slatic says there will be special circumstances in which students can access their phones.

"If there happens to be some situation in the course of the day where they need to have it, every single teacher and administrator, every coach will have the key to unlock those bags."

A similar policy is already being practiced at Phoenix Secondary Academy within Fresno Unified.

Bullard's administration is planning to have several meetings with parents in the coming weeks to address any concerns they have about the new policy.