Editor's note: The story was updated to remove a redundant sentence.

Katy ISD middle and high school students may have to put their cellphones in their backpacks like the district’s elementary school students if the proposed changes to the district cellphone policies are approved prior to the next school year.

In a nutshell

Chris Morgan and Kristin Harper, assistant superintendents for school leadership and support, gave a presentation on proposed revisions to the district’s cellphone policy during the board of trustees meeting April 22. They said the possible changes have been vetted by multiple district groups, including principals and peer district representatives.

The following proposed changes will mirror elementary schools rules regarding cellphone use, including:
  • All cellphones must be put away in student’s backpacks and turned off during class.
  • Any student violating the cellphone policy is subject to disciplinary action.
  • All classrooms will display 2024-25 classroom cellphone guidelines for reference.
Officials cited the CLASS 1:1 Student to Device initiative as well as the issuing of Chromebook’s to district students as the reasons for the review of current policy and the changes proposed.

Once students are issued a Katy ISD Chromebook, it will be the only personal computing system they will be allowed to use throughout the instructional school day starting in the fall.

The passage of the 2023 bond made it possible to provide every Katy ISD student in grades 3-12 with a Chromebook for both classroom and home use.

Current situation

Current district policies regarding telecommunication devices vary for different grades and campus types, according to the district website.
  • Pre-K, kindergarten and first grade students: prohibited from using cellphones in class, while riding to/from school on school buses, while in detention, or while participating in school-sponsored activities on or off campus
  • Elementary students grades 2-5: may possess cellphones but are only to be used for instructional purposes under the direction of a teacher; cellphones should be turned off and not visible at any other time during the school day, on school grounds and district buses
  • Junior high and high school students: are allowed to have cellphones but must abide by rules, such as having ringers turned off
A closer look

Consequences for violating the new policies will be incremental, Harper said. First-time offenders may simply be instructed to put their device on the teacher's desk for the remainder of the class period.

“A second offense might be detention, or phone call to parents or an email to parents; a third might be confiscation of the item until the end of the day, and they have to pick it up in the assistant principal's office at the end of the day,” Harper said. “So there's a wide range of consequences that can be implemented up to and including confiscation of the item.”

Superintendent Ken Gregorski said, given the size of the district, currently the administration relies on campus leadership to tailor their school’s cellphone policies based on the disciplinary behavior of students.

“What the team has proposed ... is giving campuses a little bit of autonomy,” he said. “Ninety-six thousand kids, 75 campuses, ... we do give campuses some leeway and flexibility based on what's happening on their campus.”

The board would have to create new policy to make rules regarding cellphones uniform across the district.

What they’re saying

Trustee Dawn Champagne said she was concerned about the proposed changes.

“If we restrict it from the hallways and all that, it's a big cultural change,” she said. “Some kids have been using their phones forever. So I'm not saying that it's not possible, I'm just saying it's gonna be a big cultural change.”

What’s next

Board members discussed further review, involving the policy committee to guide them, and perhaps more feedback before approving or making changes to the proposal before the next school year begins.

Any changes adopted from current district policy regarding cellphones would need to be approved by the board. The next board meeting will be May 6.