Starting this upcoming school year, Crestwood High School students will face consequences if they’re caught with their cellphones.

According to the new policy approved by the Board of Education on Thursday, cell phones must be turned off and stored in a locker throughout the entire day, including during lunch and study hall periods. Previously, high school students could use their phones during lunch time, and the new policy is now the same as the middle school’s cell phone policy.

“The ultimate challenge is to teach them the appropriate use of the device,” Superintendent David Toth said in May. “We need to have conversations with kids and even adults about when it is an appropriate time to use phones because they’re not going away.”

Any device found on a student will be taken by a staff member and turned into the administration, who will hold it until the end of the school day.

First-time offenders will receive a detention, and the phone will be returned to the student at the end of the day. Second-time offenders receive two detentions, and the phone will be returned to an adult at the end of the day. Third-time offenders receive one day of in school restrictions (ISR), the phone will be returned to an adult and social probation is assigned. Fourth-time offenders receive one Saturday School, the phone will be returned to an adult and social probation is assigned. Fifth-time offenders will be suspended from school and must compete a cell phone PSA project.

Students are also prohibited from audio or video recording any meeting or activity at school, and the school assumes no responsibility for the theft, loss, damage or misuse of any electronic devices brought onto school grounds.

Crestwood is the first high school in Portage County to establish such a ban in the student handbook, and high school staff are hoping that it will make students less dependent on their phones and more likely to have face-to-face interactions.

“The benefits we’re looking for are higher level of class engagement because we’re not going to be saying ‘get off your phone,’ increase student grades, decrease apathy, increase social skills, increase empathy, safer environment, more creative thinking and problem solving skills,” said high school teacher Colleen Ready, who gave a presentation in support of the new policy with a team of other high school staff members.

The group cited several reasons for the change including ongoing problems of students taking photos of tests, cheating on tests, online bullying, texting each other to vape in the bathrooms and not interacting with each other during lunch periods. Additionally, school counselor Karen Graves said that she frequently has students who are unable to function in class because of something they saw posted online or because someone did not immediately respond to a text.

Teacher Christine Spencer acknowledged that parents may be worried about safety issues in the case of a lockdown or active shooter situation, but said that cell phones may cause more safety issues, citing an NPR interview with security expert Ken Trump.

“Phones can distract them from hiding or getting away. The sound of a phone could give away a hiding space. Someone could be following them on social media to locate them. Families trying to get in touch can clog communication systems,” she said.

“I’ve been insistent with the high school staff, and they’re on board, that if we make a change, there needs to be an educational component for the kids and parents so they understand where we’re coming from,” high school Principal Dave McMahon said.

At the time, board members raised concerns about banning students from having phones, but continuing to allow teachers to use their phones.

“There are applications teachers use. They take pictures and Tweet, so we don’t want to discourage that component,” McMahon said, adding that overuse and personal use would be addressed with the staff.

Toth said that there would likely be a meeting for parents and students about the new policy in August.

Reporter Krista S. Kano can be reached at 330-541-9416, kkano@recordpub.com or on Twitter @KristaKanoRCedu.