AB 272: Dialing Down Student Use of Smartphones


In Part 2 of our review of new legislation impacting schools in 2020, we look at AB 272, which adds Section 48901.7 to the Education Code. AB 272 went into effect on January 1, 2020, and permits school districts, county offices of education, and charter schools to adopt a policy limiting or prohibiting student use of smartphones at school or otherwise when students are under the supervision and control of school employees.


Many schools and districts already have policies governing smartphone use. Now, AB 272 provides some teeth to these policies so that parents, students and other stakeholders see the policies are backed by law. If no policy exists, consider relying on AB 272 to address common situations arising at school: students using smartphones during class time, video recordings leading to student discipline, accessing social media during the school day, and using that same social media to bully classmates.


A comprehensive policy could include a general prohibition on smartphones on campus, the times in which a smartphone would be permitted, conduct that is absolutely prohibited, and consequences for violating the policy.


Given the passage of AB 272, it’s also time to revisit existing policies to ensure compliance with the exceptions listed in Section 48901.7. In these circumstances, a school must permit smartphone usage: during an emergency, when the pupil has been granted permission by a teacher or administrator, when a physician determines the smartphone is necessary for the health or well-being of the pupil , and when required by a pupil’s individualized education program (IEP). New and existing policies can be improved by expressly including these exceptions.


Adopting a policy can support teachers and administrators to address smartphone usage and handle situations fairly and consistently among all students. It gives staff and administrators a process to follow when a student uses a smartphone in violation of school rules. If your organization adopts a policy, consider updating the discipline policy and student/family handbook to ensure consistency across settings.


The Law Offices of Megan M. Moore can help if your organization adopt a new policy or review existing policies to ensure compliance with the law. Contact Megan for assistance: Megan@MeganMooreLaw.com.


By Barbara Raich and Megan Moore


Barbara has 8 years of experience advising and supporting public schools. She has researched and developed policy, provided guidance on student discipline, and supported charter schools through special education due process matters. Megan is the President of the Law Offices of Megan M. Moore and brings over 11 years of experience guiding school districts, charter schools, and SELPAs through complex legal issues related to student discipline, parent-school relationships and special education.


Megan Moore is the President of the Law Offices of Megan M. Moore and brings over 11 years of experience guiding school districts, charter schools, and SELPAs through complex legal issues related to student discipline, parent-school relationships and special education.


Posts in Moore on School Law are not intended as legal advice. Additional facts or future developments may affect any laws, subjects, or information shared. Seek the advice of an attorney before acting or relying upon any information in this or any update from Moore on School Law.

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Megan@MeganMooreLaw.com

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