Cell Phones in Schools: Supports for Students with Disabilities and Special Considerations

The Ohio Department of Education and Workforce recognizes that all students need to be supported to thrive in their academic settings. Schools and districts can consider creative strategies for limiting the use of cell phones in schools but also identify situations where students may need access to their cell phones for educational or medical reasons.  

Students with Disabilities  

Students identified with a disability pursuant to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and supported by an individualized education program (IEP) or a 504 plan may have additional educational needs than their peers. Schools and districts must consider students’ IEPs and 504 plans when creating policies to limit cell phone use during the school day. 

  • If using a cell phone during the school day is written into a student’s IEP or 504 plan, the student must be permitted to use the cell phone as outlined in their IEP or 504 plan. 
  • When creating students’ IEPs or 504 plans, if the inclusion of cell phone use is discussed, the IEP/504 team should consider the use and clearly outline the need and parameters around the use of the cell phone as needed for that student. 
  • Schools and districts should make sure the student, family, and educational team(s) supporting the student understand cell phone use as detailed in the IEP or 504 plan to allow the most productive educational conditions.  

Students with Medical Needs 

Students may have medical needs that require the use of a cell phone during the school day.

  • Schools and districts can work with students and families to determine if a student’s medical needs require the use of a cell phone during the school day.
  • If a student needs to use a cell phone during the school day for medical reasons, an individual health care plan should be developed with the student, family, and school health team (such as the school nurse, medical monitor, or an administrator) and shared with the student’s teachers. The plan may include:
    • When and how the student will use their cell phone.
      • Using the cell phone for tracking a medical condition (for example, Diabetes Management)
      • Documenting medication administration (for example, Asthma)
    • Any other details needed for the student to appropriately manage their health needs.
  • Consider where and when during the school day it is appropriate for a student with medical needs to use the cell phone based on their unique health care needs. Discuss that the student is not permitted to use their cell phone outside of their plan. For example, cell phone use may occur at specific times each day or in a designated location such as the school health center.
  • Communicate the individual health plan that includes cell phone use with all staff members who may interact with a student using their cell phone for these purposes. 


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Last Modified: 5/29/2024 4:06:15 PM