Vancouver School Board defers vote on cell phone restrictions, again

A motion to restrict cellphone use in Vancouver public schools has been delayed once again after the Vancouver School Board was set to vote on the matter Monday.

Trustees were set to review the motion initially put forward by ABC Vancouver trustee and school board chair, Victoria Jung, in April. That initial motion was stalled due to a largely procedural issue last month, forcing the proposed restrictions to be heard again on May 27.

The board has deferred the debate to a later date, because of an absence of quorum during an “unscheduled education plan meeting” that happened last week, according to trustee Suzie Mah.

However, trustee Mah says at least four trustees in a committee have to be present to make a decision, and during the education plan meeting last week, only two out of four were present.

“In other words the other day when we did not have a quorum at that meeting, there was no meeting. It was an informal chat, where the proceedings, the people there in that room, could not make any decisions,” she said. “What should have happened was there should have been another education plan meeting called and convened.”

During the board meeting, Mah said she was “puzzled” as to why the motion was before them at all.

“If this meeting goes ahead and deals with this matter, it is doing so at its own risk in terms of appearing to the public, the duly elected representatives here around the table, that we are not following our own process,” she said. “This is very serious…It needs to go back to that education committee.”

Mah says that even though there is a rush to make it to July 1, the process must be followed.

4 board members were in favour of postponing the decision, and 3 were not. A date has not yet been set.

The motion proposed that students from Kindergarten to Grade 6 be required to keep phones “on silent and out of sight for the entire school day,” unless they get permission from an educator.

The motion comes after a January announcement from the provincial government, requiring school districts to implement new guidelines for device usage and social media access in schools.

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