Schools consider cellphone ban for parents

The Broward school district is looking to put the brakes on dangerous driving — and parents, that means you.

The School Board is considering a policy that would ban drivers on school grounds from using their cellphones and all other electronic devices, even if they are using headsets or Bluetooth.

“I want their full attention if they’re on our school site,” said Jerry Graziose, director of safety for the district, who drafted the proposal. “We’ve had parents actually hit their kids in the school driveways.”

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down pick-up lines. School employees say they have banged on cars to stop drivers from dragging their own kids who are still getting out of the vehicle. And they’ve seen people speed off while their children’s clothing or backpack dangled in the door.

“Once I saw a woman so preoccupied on her phone at Somerset Academy that she did not even notice that her poodle had jumped from the passenger side window and was hanging from its leash like a hang man’s noose,” said parent Michael Aceti, who works in Sunrise.

Owen Torres, a spokesman for Palm Beach County schools, said the district has no plans to add any restrictions. However, it does encourage parents to put down their phones during drop-off and pick-up.

“We want to make sure everyone is on proper alert,” he said.

Campuses in Broward already post signs prohibiting cellphone use in drop-off and pick-up areas. But school officials said they’ve had a hard time enforcing it without an official rulebook.

State law prohibits texting while driving, but only considers it a secondary offense so a driver has to break another rule to receive a fine.

The proposed policy would allow those waiting in pick-up lines to whip out their phones — until the car starts moving. But if a parent refuses to put down the digital device, there’s not much anyone can do about it.

Because of that, the policy is “irrelevant,” said Davie parent Jennifer Ghetti. “Reality is, how many parents will actually abide by that?”

Graziose said driving incidents so far have been minor and mostly at the elementary schools, but he wants to prevent more serious injuries.

“When [people] are using their hands-free device, they’re concentrating on their phone, not paying attention to the children,” he said.

The policy still needs School Board approval. A public hearing on it will be scheduled in the next month.