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Texting in school has Lake Park-Audobon abuzz

AUDUBON - A story that appeared in the most recent issue of the Lake Park-Audubon school newsletter, "The Raider," generated enough local controversy to prompt a discussion at Monday night's LP-A School Board meeting.

The story, which concerned the use of text messaging by LP-A students, did include information about the school's policy with regard to cell phone use.

The article, which was written by LP-A junior Megan Washek, states that students are only allowed to send text messages before and after school, in between classes, or at lunch -- and students who are caught violating the policy will have their phones confiscated for the remainder of the school day.

But the article also contained an interview with fellow LP-A junior Mckenna Dinkel, who claimed to have sent "about 22,000 text messages in one month."

The article also contained some misleading information, however. Washek wrote that teachers had "pretty much given up on trying to pry it (the cell phone) out of her (Dinkel's) hands," and despite the consequences, Dinkel "still likes to risk the chance of being caught on her phone."

According to LP-A High School Principal Kevin Ricke, the cell phone policy is strongly enforced at the school, and while there have been "several first-time offenders this year," there have only been seven students who have had their phones confiscated more than once.

A second offense requires that the student's parent come to the school to pick up the phone, and a third offense requires that the parent meet with the principal. Only two students have been cited for a third offense, Ricke said.

Superintendent Dale Hogie said "there are consequences" if a student does not turn over their phone at the teacher's request; it is considered as defiance of authority.

Though the "Raider" article does include information about the consequences for violating school cell phone policy, LP-A Board Chair Vicky Grondahl said there had been "a lot of confusion" about the article, and some clarification was needed.

Ricke was directed by the board to write an article clarifying the school's policy on cell phone use for the next issue of "The Raider."