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Wired on campus

Eileen JoyceNevada Union junior Brandi Victorine, 15, (right) holds her cell phone as she and her friends Vickie McChesney (left), 17, and Zach Zyskowski talk about having cell phones on campus.
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A bill allowing the use of cell phones and pagers on school campuses is a gesture whose time has come, a handful of students and administrators said Wednesday.

Senate Bill 1253, written by state Sen. Liz Figueroa, D-Fremont, would amend the California Education Code to permit the possession and use of electronic transmitting devices at a school district?s discretion.

The bill is awaiting action by Gov. Gray Davis.



That could significantly change the policies at Nevada Joint Union High School District schools, where such devices are banned on school grounds, though many students use them.

Safety and convenience are the primary reasons why Nevada Union senior Andrew Liller, 17, carries a cell phone in his pocket while on campus.




?I wanted to get it because you can?t always find a pay phone that works,? Liller said during a lunch break. ?It?s a lot of convenience to have one of these,? he said, quickly concealing the slim phone in his jacket as a campus security officer approached.

Kurt Stenderup, NU?s co-acting principal, said he?s aware of SB 1253. He supports a student?s right to be safe on campus ? so much so that he and other high school authorities aren?t spending a lot of time enforcing that section of the education code.

?I?m not making it a high priority that students shouldn?t have cell phones on campus,? he said. ?We don?t really want to see (cell phones and pagers) out on campus, but we don?t want to see students become disconnected from their families.?

The move to lift the ban stems in part from a number of recent high-profile abduction cases in California and across the nation. Tuesday, a 10-year-old California girl was abducted and later found in Nevada after authorities issued a statewide ?Amber Alert? when she was reported missing from her Riverside home. Last month, a five-year-old Garden Grove girl was abducted and killed. On Wednesday, a neighbor of 7-year-old Danielle Van Dam was convicted of her murder after he allegedly entered her San Diego home in February and dumped her body days later.

And authorities are still searching for Elizabeth Smart, 14, who disappeared from her family?s Salt Lake City home June 5.

While allowing cell phones and pagers won?t immediately stop such occurrences, Stenderup said allowing students the use of such devices may prevent them.

?Parents have a constitutional right to have their kids in a safe school environment,? he said.

NU junior Zach Zyskowski, 14, has had a cell phone for six months. ?They?re a vital part of our society,? he said.

Brandi Victorine, 15, a junior, got her phone to keep her parents informed of all her activities, including color guard. ?I wouldn?t be OK without one of these.?

Senior Mallory Idle, 17, said she?d just go for a pager.

?I don?t want to be that accessible,? she said.


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