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Colorado Principals Boldly Create Smartphone Policy

These Colorado School principals are boldly going above and beyond typical (and largely unmanageable) policies.
Previous policies included simple and unaccountable language such as “Phones need to be turned off and/or put away during instructional time.”

Evergreen Middle School/JeffCo/Evergreen/2018-2019

getREADY News – School Messenger from EMS Principal Tim Vialpando:

New policy for 2018-2019:

Based on feedback from our community regarding the social and academic impacts of smartphones at school, EMS will move forward with a new policy regarding smartphones next school year. This change has the unanimous support of staff, PTA, and school accountability. I wanted you to know this now in preparation for the next year; more details will follow.

Smart Phone Policy At EMS: smartphones are not considered a 1:1 device. Students are not permitted to use Smartphones at EMS between the bells. (7:55 – 2:50) This includes lunch, recess and hallways.

Adams City Middle School/Commerce City/2018-2019

Use of Cell Phones on School Grounds

Use or possession of cell phones during the school day is prohibited. Cell phones must be placed in the student’s locker and remain there until the end of the school day.

Author’s Note: Unfortunately, I have to strongly disagree with the next two sentences.  This creates inconsistency, it spotlights students without a phone, it questions the efficacy of phones as a teaching tool, it puts families in a position where they feel they have to get a phone and most importantly, it is not part of the State of Colorado Core Curriculum.

Periodically, a teacher may allow students to bring their cell phone to class in order to be used for educational purposes. The student is expected to return the cell phone to their backpack at the end of that class period.

From time to time parents/guardians will attempt to contact their students either by phone or text during the school day.  This causes a distraction to the learning environment and therefore is strictly prohibited. It is also prohibited for students to contact their parent/guardian via phone or text during the school day.

If a parent/guardian must get ahold of their student, please contact the main office at 303-288-5881. The front office staff will gladly take a message for your student and deliver it to them at the appropriate time. Students will not be called out of class to talk to a parent/guardian. If a parent/guardian requests to talk to their student during the school day, the front office staff will take a message and have the student call the parent/guardian during a passing period or lunch. This method can only be used for emergency situations and should not be habitual.

Mountain Ridge Middle School/Douglas/Highlands Ranch/2018-2019

Dear 2018-2019 MRMS Parents,
I am reaching out to you to let you know about a change in our cell phone policy for the 2018-19 school year. This change was initiated by our School Advisory Committee (SAC), along with several other parents who requested it.
Over the past several years, we have seen a decrease in student engagement in class and in social settings, as well as an increase in unsafe online behavior during the school day. During the two weeks of testing recently, students were not allowed to use their phones, and we saw significant improvements in social interactions. Several middle schools in the district adopted no phone policies this year, and the feedback has been incredibly positive. They have seen a noticeable decrease in discipline and an increase in classroom engagement.

Substantial research supports decreased screen time for adolescents. The removal of phones/technology for extended periods during the day leads to decreased anxiety and increased positive social interactions, not to mention greater focus on classroom engagement. Our goal is to create a safe learning environment. The constant use and availability of technology is neither safe nor conducive to adequate learning.

If this initiative is passed by the SAC, starting 2018-19 school year, students will have the choice to either leave their cell phones at home or store them in their backpacks. We will no longer allow students to carry phones in their pockets or have them out during the school day, unless directed by a teacher for an educational reason. Students will be expected to keep their phones in their backpacks during passing periods, lunches, etc. This policy will be consistently enforced throughout the building regardless of teacher or pod, as that is best practice.
Your child’s safety is absolutely a priority at MRMS. Please know that in the event of a true emergency, students would be able to use their phones if needed. Students may also call or text when they arrive at school and when they are leaving, if you monitor your child’s safety this way. If non-emergency situations arise during the day, your child will be able to use the office or classroom phones. If a parent needs to reach a student, office staff can deliver a message to a student anytime between 7 AM and 4 PM.

The Mountain Ridge SAC, who is leading this effort, invites parents with questions or concerns about this change to our next SAC meeting on May 10th at 3:15 at Mountain Ridge. The SAC will vote on the change after hearing from parents in attendance. We look forward to an open and respectful dialogue. I will communicate further once a vote has been taken and the decision is finalized.

Thank you so much!
Shannon Clarke, Principal

Ranch View Middle School/Douglas/Highlands Ranch/2018/2019

Dear 18/19 Ranch View Families,

Happy summer! I hope you and your family are enjoying this wonderful weather and time together so far. I am reaching out today to inform you of an adjustment we are making for next year regarding our cell phone policy for students at school.

Beginning next year, students will be required to keep their cell phones and/or personally owned devices in their backpacks, or leave them at home during the school day. One of the reasons for this policy change is the amount of research out there to support less screen time for adolescents during this pivotal time in their lives. This will also allow students to more easily focus on their academics while at school as opposed to having to manage the overwhelming amount of information they are exposed to from their mobile devices.

Finally, mobile devices at times can be a convenient platform for the use of social media as a means to bully or harass each other so we feel it important to remove this ability, at least while students are at school. This policy change occurred after other middle schools went this direction last year and experienced huge success and positive feedback. For the 18/19 school year, all DCSD middle schools are adopting this type of policy when it comes to cell phones or personally owned devices. Finally, a key component to this decision was the fact that our School Accountability Committee (SAC) voted in support of this change.

We are thankful for their support and valuable feedback in making this decision. This policy will be a part of the online check-in process for parents at the start of next year. We will also have the policy available on our website and we will be having students acknowledge this as well when they start school so all stakeholders are on the same page moving forward. As always, thank you for your partnership and we look forward to a wonderful school year!

Tanner Fitch RVMS Principal.

Rocky Heights Middle School/Douglas/Highlands Ranch/2018/2019

We have not been able to get our hands on the Rocky Heights Policy, but the following dialog was recently reported from school administrators about their new policy source:

A rise in classroom distractions and decline in peer-to-peer interactions led Celine Wicks, principal of Rocky Heights Middle School in Highlands Ranch, to implement a cellphone ban at the beginning of this school year.

They can put those words out there and never be accountable to them,” said Ann Guenther, assistant principal and dean of Rocky Heights Middle School. “How they view themselves, how they developmentally form their sense of self, is coming from the wrong channels.

Rocky Heights had some pushback from students when it first implemented its cellphone ban. Today, kids are spending more time interacting face-to-face and they have more confidence, Guenther said. A visit to the lunchroom shows the difference.

[Rocky Heights] still allow students to have their cellphones to call parents after school or from the bus. But the devices must be left in backpacks and turned off during the school day. [Rocky Heights has] a one-to-one laptop program, meaning every student has access to a laptop or tablet.

The decision to ban cellphones wasn’t simple, Guenther said. Changing a school’s technology policy requires inclusion of the parent community, students and staff.

“This truly is about educating everybody in your building and your student body population about understanding cellphone uses,” Guenther said. Cellphones are “fun and addicting, but there are some pretty high prices to pay.”

Scott Carpenter Middle School/Adams/Denver/2018-2019

We now have one-to-one technology available for each student with the Chromebooks. This means there is no school related reason for student to bring electronic devices.  If they do bring them they should store them safely and not seek to access them during the school day. The reason for this shift is one, the above stated Chromebooks and two, we want to eliminate distractions for your child, our students.

Feel free to call the main office if you have questions regarding this policy, 303.428.8583. Below is the district’s policy paraphrased from page 33 of the Student’s Rights and Responsibilities handbook. The administration may prohibit the use of any personal electronic communication device on district property or at school-related functions away from district property by any student at any time.

The administration may take appropriate disciplinary action, including but not limited to, confiscation of the  device, which will be returned to the student and/or parent in accordance with established building guidelines. Prohibited uses of personal electronic communication devices on district property or at school-related functions away from district property include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Using such devices to engage in scholastic dishonesty;
  • Using such devices to download, upload, create, send or view video, pictures, audio or text reasonably interpreted by the administration to be inappropriate, indecent, offensive or sexually suggestive;
  • Using such devices to create photographs, still images, video or audio recordings of students, school visitors and/or District or school staff without permission of the student, school visitor and/or district or school staff  member;
  • Using such devices to save personal or non-school related files to a   District- owned computer;
  • Using such devices for any form of “cyber-bullying” such as sending threatening text-messages, images or email, or other unwanted or unsolicited electronic communications or for any purpose that is detrimental to the welfare or safety of other pupils or of school personnel, including any communication that creates a threat of physical harm to the child or to other children;
  • Using such devices to transmit any communications that cause a disruption to the learning environment;
  • Using such devices in a manner which is potentially unsafe, illegal or otherwise might violate the WPS Code of Conduct for students.
Elementary Schools

Timber Trails Elementary School/Douglas/Castle Pines/2018-2019


We ask that students not bring cell phones to school.  Students will be able to use school phones if they need to contact their parents.  We understand that some parents may want their students to have a cell phone so they can call them when they are dropped off at their bus stop.  In that case, the cell phone must stay in the backpack and powered off while on school property.  If a student is accessing their phones during the day, the parent will be asked to pick it up in the office after school. Timber Trail cannot accept responsibility for lost, broken or stolen phones.

SMARTWATCHES, FITNESS TRACKERS, ELECTRONIC MUSIC DEVICES, SMART TABLETS: Smartwatches, fitness trackers, electronic music devices, smart tablets and personal computers are not allowed at school. Please keep these items at home. We know that some students may need to bring in a device to participate in performance day when they have music. In that case, we ask that the student give the device to their classroom teacher to hold onto before and after music class. Thank you for your help and support.


The language used in board policy with the following Colorado School Districts might allow school principals to have a ‘base’ or a ‘foundation’ to build on their local policy with little debate.  Many administrators are reporting there is a constant cycle of debate.  District policy also supports staff turnover at the school level.

Monte Vista School District #C-8 / Monte Vista, Colorado

The verbiage below is not Monte Vista School District’s entire policy.

Specific verbiage is highlighted here because I believe it communicates to school principals the district ‘has your back’. 

This basic district policy seems to provide principals with a ‘foundation’ to further enhance their local school policy if they desire.

For purposes of this policy, “electronic communication devices” include cell phones, beepers, pagers, walkie-talkies, and any other telecommunications device that emits an audible signal, vibrates, displays a message, or otherwise summons or delivers a communication to the possessor (e.g., Blackberry, Palm Pilot, etc.)

(Elementary and Middle Schools) …devices must be turned off inside school buildings, on school buses, at school-sponsored activities and on field trips.

(High School) phones, video phones, cell phones, pagers, and other personal electronic communication devices can be disruptive to the educational process and is not acceptable.

Violation of this policy and/or use that violates any other district policy shall result in disciplinary measures and confiscation of the electronic communication device. Confiscated devices shall be returned to the student only after a conference with the parent/guardian, student and school personnel. The building principal or designee may also refer the matter to law enforcement, as appropriate.

Cherry Creek Denver Office, Colorado

ADDRESS: 50 S Steele St, Denver, CO 80209
PHONE: 720-722-2031

Lakewood Office, Colorado

ADDRESS: 12157 W Cedar Dr Suite 200, Lakewood, CO 80228
PHONE: 720-722-2031