Students Hit With $15 Fine For Using Cell Phones in School

One Texas school district took in $100,000 in cell phone fines in two years.

ByABC News
July 13, 2009, 6:21 PM

July 14, 2009— -- When students in Abilene, Texas, return to class in six weeks they better not be caught using their cell phones.

No calls, no texting, no surfing the Web. If they slip up and are caught, they better be prepared to pay the price: confiscation of their cell phone until they pay a $15 fine. After the second offense, their parent must come in to pay the $15.

The fines are meant as a get-tough approach to what educators call an out-of-control use of phones and other mobile devices in the classroom. But in this economic downturn, the fees are bringing some much-needed revenue into the empty coffers of school districts.

Schools across the country have been cracking down on cell phone use but nowhere has that stance been stronger than in Texas where state regulations allow individual districts to confiscate the devices and charge up to $15 for their return.

Abilene is just one of the latest districts to toughen its stance.

Across the state at the Klein Independent School District teachers have been confiscating cell phones and slapping students with the $15 fee for two years.

In that time, the district has collected $100,948 from students. That's right, $100,948 just from errant cell phone users.

"I think that high number speaks volumes about students using their phones at inappropriate times," said Trazanna Moreno, spokeswoman for the district just north of Houston. "That number represents how much students are connected to that handheld, mobile technology and the fact that it's so hard for them to break that connection."

But don't think that the Klein district -- with its 42,789 students -- has found the solution to its budget concerns.