Students Rebel Against Phone Policy, Get a Big Warning

Houston superintendent threatens to suspend kids who walk out of high school over phone ban
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 9, 2024 12:52 PM CST
Students Rebel Against Phone Policy, Get a Big Warning
Stock photo.   (Getty Images/Daniel de la Hoz)

Students who don't like their Texas school's new cellphone policy carried out a series of protests over the past week, and now their district's superintendent is warning of repercussions. reports that "hundreds" of students at James Madison High School in Houston protested in front of the school on Thursday, some holding signs that read "We are high school kids, not cellmates" and "You are not here to imprison us or confine us. Free us." Thursday's demonstration came after a protest-spurred lockdown on Friday and a walkout on Monday, following the recent announcement that student cellphones were barred.

A rep for the Houston Independent School District tells that, under the new policy, students at the high school can't simply keep their phones in their backpacks during the school day, as many other schools mandate: Instead, they have to turn them in to staff and pick them up at day's end. They're also not allowed to use them at lunch. Edgar Contreras, the high school's principal, implemented the policy to help stop fighting on the school's campus, as kids were apparently recording fights on their phones, then sharing it with others. Kids at the school, however, say the phone ban is unconstitutional and called the school's culture akin to being in prison.

"I don't even feel safe," student Madison Rittenhouse tells KTRK. "I really do want to have a good education ... [but] they're making this really hard for us." It may soon get even harder for some: HISD Superintendent Mike Miles warned Thursday that students who protest could face suspension. "Walking out is dangerous for kids, and adults outside the system should not be encouraging that," Miles said, per the Houston Chronicle. "It's not safe, and encouraging that kind of behavior is irresponsible for adults, especially adults who are not in the school." A state education official sides with the new policy. "You have to create a learning environment that allows students to focus," Texas Education Commissioner Mike Morath tells KTRK. (More cellphones stories.)

Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.