David Mendez

Redondo Beach About Town

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Muratsuchi’s smartphones-at-schools bill signed by governor

Gov. Gavin Newsom signed into law Assemblymember Al Muratsuchi’s Assembly Bill 272 this week. The bill encourages California school districts to develop and adopt policies that limit or prohibit student use of smartphones on school grounds during school hours, with specific exceptions.

The law doesn’t force school districts to adopt new policies, but instead nudges them to create policies limiting smartphones (except in case of emergency) where they may not already exist, though districts are urged to consider other situations, as when a teacher or administrator grants permission for academic or other approved purposes; when necessary for the health and well-being of the student; or when a phone is needed by a student with special needs.

“Growing evidence shows excessive smartphone use at school interferes with a student’s education and success, encourages cyberbullying, and contributes to teenage anxiety, depression, and suicide,” Muratsuchi said in a release. “This new law will encourage school districts to develop their own policy that strikes a balance between allowing appropriate student use of smartphones at school, while making sure that smartphones are not interfering with a student’s educational, social and emotional development.”

The new law is not likely to alter existing policies at the Redondo Beach Unified School District. Though there appear to be no existing district-wide policies for student-owned electronic devices — policies are set for district-owned devices assigned to students — each school site has its own guidelines in place for student phone use. Broadly, students at the elementary and middle school levels are not permitted to use smartphones or similar electronic devices during the school day, or on campus at all. Redondo Union High School’s policy allows for students to use smartphones outside of classroom instructional hours.

The law will take effect in January 2020.

Correction

In “Down but not out” (June 27), the City Council district, and Council member representation, of Veterans Park was mistakenly stated. Veterans Park is in District 1, and represented by Councilman Nils Nehrenheim. We regret the error.

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