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DeWine says Ohio schools should consider phone-free policies for classrooms

Gov. Mike DeWine and Lt. Gov. Jon Husted lead a roundtable on phone ban policies, held at Dublin City Schools.
Sarah Donaldson
Statehouse News Bureau
Gov. Mike DeWine and Lt. Gov. Jon Husted lead a roundtable on phone ban policies, held at Dublin City Schools.

In the last few years, a contingent of Ohio’s middle and high schools enacted policies banning phones, and Gov. Mike DeWine said Wednesday he believes districts statewide should take heed.

Some district leaders and school principals whose buildings already have phone-free policies in place met for a roundtable at Dublin City Schools on Wednesday morning, led by Gov. Mike DeWine and Lt. Gov. Jon Husted.

As of this academic year, the five middle schools within Dublin City Schools are entirely cellphone free. High school students are required to power their phones off during the day, but can still bring their devices to school with them.

“When you walk into a lunchroom, when you walk into a building, it sounds like a middle school should sound. It's loud. Kids are engaged, kids are talking with each other,” said John Marschhausen, the district’s superintendent.

Students are communicating more and getting in trouble less, he said.

Members of the roundtable largely shared the same sentiments during the roundtable, as they outlined their own sets of rules and how they rolled them out. Some districts allow students to have phones on their person, but ask that they turn them off.

“Our kids actually tell on each other,” said Robin Murdock, principal of Gahanna Middle School South.

Other districts require students to hand over their devices at the start of the school day. Fairborn City Schools uses locking pouches, according to Gene Lolli, the district's superintendent. The phone pouches come through a contract with Yondr.

Parents and families have largely backed the bans so far, roundtable attendees said. Lolli said he didn’t get a single concerned call.

Husted said adults have to intervene for children. He's been vocal about his concerns with internet and social media use among kids—advocating for a recent state law that would have required social media and gaming sites to get parental permission before letting any Ohioan younger than 16 onto their platforms. It won’t go into effect any time soon because of litigation.

But DeWine and Husted said Wednesday they don’t think the phone ban policies should involve the state government right now. “We just want every school in the state to take a hard, hard look at this.” DeWine said.

DeWine wants decision-making to stay local as more evidence emerges, he said.

“Any time that schools can make the decision without having there be a law is better for all of us,” Marschhausen said.

Sarah Donaldson covers government, policy, politics and elections for the Ohio Public Radio and Television Statehouse News Bureau. Contact her at
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