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Thu Jun 4, 2015, 08:47 AM

Florida science teacher suspended for signal-jamming studentsí cell phones

Last edited Thu Jun 4, 2015, 09:54 AM - Edit history (1)

A Florida high school teacher was suspended without pay for five days Tuesday for deploying a signal jammer in his science class to block students from using their mobile phones.

Superintendent Kurt Browning said in a Pasco County School Board reprimand letter (PDF) to instructor Dean Liptak that he exercised "poor judgement" and "posed a serious risk to critical safety communications as well as the possibility of preventing others from making 9-1-1 calls."

Liptak was accused of jamming mobile devices from his Fivay High School classroom between March 31 and April 2. Verizon discovered the blockage on the cell tower located on campus.

The teacher said he did the deed for education's sake. According to his letter (PDF) to the district, he said he "could hit the off button if there was any type of emergency and the phone signals would instantly activate." He also said a local police officer told him before he deployed the device that "there are no state laws against using them as long as you donít use them for malicious intent."

Unfortunately, this science teacher didn't think things through very well. If it were only the students affected, I would high-five him at Fivey High in Florida.

I am, however, in total sympathy with him trying to do his job. He has to be sincere about his message to have gone this far. The fact that he was suspended sends the wrong message to the students, but I do understand why they had to act. At one time I checked it out, and I found it is against the law.

Bottom line is that we as a society, and particularly in education, have not dealt with this issues of cell phones in the classroom. It needs to be done.


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Reply Florida science teacher suspended for signal-jamming studentsí cell phones (Original post)
NJCher Jun 2015 OP
NaturalHigh Jun 2015 #1
Sancho Jun 2015 #2
Igel Jun 2015 #3
Igel Jun 2015 #4

Response to NJCher (Original post)

Thu Jun 4, 2015, 09:07 AM

1. I completely understand why he did it.

Back in olden times when I was a teacher, we didn't allow cell phones in the class room.

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Response to NJCher (Original post)

Thu Jun 4, 2015, 09:09 AM

2. If the students had used smart phones to cheat on state tests, he could be fired for cheating too...

this is typical in public schools today. Damned if you do and damned if you don't.

It's no secret that cell phones (now google glasses, smartwatches, etc.) are more than just fun distractions. Teachers (and other students) are recorded and show up on the internet - often getting the teacher in trouble if they allowed so misbehavior to occur.

Students use smart devices to cheat of course. Likely he was using the cell blocker during the EOC (End of Course) exams.

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Response to Sancho (Reply #2)

Thu Jun 4, 2015, 09:29 PM

3. It gets better.

Kids are challenging the legal authority for collecting cell phones from students. I'm waiting for one to get a lawyer.

At the same time, if you can't confiscate them there's little to do except write them up. But then all that happens is they get a talking to.

Heck, I've caught a student texting during a test. Who? Her mother.

Her mother was two halls away, a teacher at the same school with a reputation for not allowing phones in *her* classroom.

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Response to NJCher (Original post)

Thu Jun 4, 2015, 09:35 PM

4. Here's a link.


As for where he got it, I assume it was manufactured abroad. I've heard that in other countries places like movie theaters use them. "Japan" is the country that floats to the surface of this bit of mental swamp.

There are also devices used for sniffing out cell phone traffic. Some are directional but using them to find a source can be tricky. You know the single direction, and you really need at least two lines to locate the point of origin for the signal.

There are dedicated wall-mounted systems that feed to a common processor. They can locate the signal while it's being transmitted (and some even intercept). I've seen them advertised for use in places where you don't want cell phones to be used. Say, prisons. (If not for their cost, I'd probably have such a system set up in my classroom. It's all cinderblock and utterly windowless.)

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