Houston Independent School District Superintendent Mike Miles took a firm stance on Thursday evening, asserting that students at James Madison High School would face suspension if they persisted in protesting the newly implemented cell phone ban by walking out of school premises. The announcement came in response to a series of demonstrations at the South Houston campus following the enforcement of the policy, which requires students to surrender their phones upon entry and leave them in designated bins throughout the day.
Principal Edgar Contreras initially announced the ban last Friday, citing its aim to address issues of fighting on campus. However, students expressed discontentment with the policy, viewing it as indicative of deeper cultural issues within the school. Thursday’s protest marked the latest in a string of student-led demonstrations, including two walkouts earlier in the week, amidst what they described as “prison-like conditions” at the school.
Miles addressed concerns over the protests, affirming that the campus administration had already taken disciplinary action against some students and would continue to do so if the protests persisted. “Walking out is dangerous for kids, and adults outside the system should not be encouraging that,” he remarked. “It’s not good for kids to be outside the school; it’s not safe, and encouraging that kind of behavior is irresponsible for adults, especially adults who are not inside the school.”
Currently, James Madison High School operates under a distinct cell phone policy compared to other schools within the HISD, which permit students to have cell phones on campus but require them to remain stored in backpacks throughout the day. Despite criticisms, Miles underscored his support for the principal’s decision, aligning it with a broader national movement to restrict cell phone use in educational settings.
“We’re going to stand by this policy,” Miles emphasized. “There’s a national movement to pull cellphones back from kids during school. There’s a reason for that: there are states considering legislation to do it. Do we have to wait for legislation to do what’s right for kids?”
While acknowledging students’ right to voice concerns, Miles asserted that the administration was not obliged to fulfill all demands, emphasizing the role of administrators and teachers in decision-making processes. Additionally, he addressed a video depicting an altercation between Principal Contreras and students, stating that no inappropriate actions were taken by Contreras.
As tensions continue to simmer at James Madison High School, the district administration remains steadfast in its support of the cell phone ban, prioritizing what it perceives to be in the best interest of students’ safety and educational environment.