Student Well-Being

Boston Will Use New Cellphones To Call Truants’ Bluff

By Andrew Trotter — April 17, 2002 1 min read

Truant officers who patrol Boston neighborhoods looking for teenagers playing hooky have a new tool: a wireless system that provides student records instantly.

Starting next week, Boston’s 11 “attendance supervisors” will retrieve current student data by typing a student’s name into a special cellular phone. Each truant officer covers between 15 and 20 schools.

Better, faster information will help get students back into classes, said Elliot Feldman, the Boston school system’s director of alternative education. Nearly 5 percent of Boston’s 64,000 students are truant for more than 5 days during the school year, he said, adding that other urban districts have similar truancy rates. Until now, Boston’s truant officers have verified students’ names and stories by lugging around a paper printout the size of several phone books. It lists every student.

But that list is out of date by the time the ink dries on the page, Mr. Feldman said.

Local probation and police officers, who often make sweeps with truant officers of “hot spots” where teenagers hang out, will also receive the cellphones, which they can use to check court and police records. “We don’t want a kid with an outstanding [arrest] warrant to go back into school,” Mr. Feldman said.

The data system is designed so those officers should not be able tap in to students’ school records, but some privacy advocates have concerns.

“I don’t think this creates a new problem; it merely facilitates the movement of data and makes [data] leakage more likely,” said John Reinstein, a lawyer for the Massachusetts chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union.

Access to the data will be protected through multiple passwords and the cellphones’ electronic signatures, said Suren Gupta, the executive vice president of operations and information services for Bluebell, Pa.-based AirClic Inc., which operates the wireless system.

Boston is the first school district to try the system, Mr. Gupta said.

Related Tags:

A version of this article appeared in the April 17, 2002 edition of Education Week as Boston Will Use New Cellphones To Call Truants’ Bluff

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Student Well-Being Webinar
Measuring & Supporting Student Well-Being: A Researcher and District Leader Roundtable
Students’ social-emotional well-being matters. The positive and negative emotions students feel are essential characteristics of their psychology, indicators of their well-being, and mediators of their success in school and life. Supportive relationships with peers, school
Content provided by Panorama Education
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
School & District Management Webinar
Making Digital Literacy a Priority: An Administrator’s Perspective
Join us as we delve into the efforts of our panelists and their initiatives to make digital skills a “must have” for their district. We’ll discuss with district leadership how they have kept digital literacy
Content provided by Learning.com
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
School & District Management Webinar
How Schools Can Implement Safe In-Person Learning
In order for in-person schooling to resume, it will be necessary to instill a sense of confidence that it is safe to return. BD is hosting a virtual panel discussing the benefits of asymptomatic screening
Content provided by BD

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Student Well-Being Quiz
Quiz Yourself: How Much Do You Know About Using The American Rescue Plan Act to Support Hybrid-Learning?
Quiz Yourself: How well do you know the American Rescue Plan?
Content provided by ConexED Logo
Student Well-Being Opinion Why Venting When You Have Problems Feels Good—and Why It Doesn’t Work
When you keep talking about what’s bothering you, it keeps the negative emotions alive. Here’s what research says to do instead.
Ethan Kross
2 min read
Images shows a stylized artistic landscape with soothing colors.
Getty
Student Well-Being What the Research Says How Does Sending a Child to School Change a Family's Risk of COVID-19?
In-person schooling that doesn't lead to outbreaks can still raise the risk of kids bringing the virus home, especially in poor families.
3 min read
On Sept. 24, 2020, distance learners are seen on a laptop held by teacher Kristen Giuliano who assists student Jane Wood, 11, in a seventh-grade social studies class at Dodd Middle School in Cheshire, Conn. A new study finds a family's risk of infection rose if they had a school-age student when schools re-started in person instruction.
Students, assisted by their teacher Kristen Giuliano, work remotely and in-person in a hybrid classroom earlier this year at Dodd Middle School in Cheshire, Conn.
Dave Zajac/Record-Journal via AP
Student Well-Being Teens Are Starting to Get Vaccinated. That's a Big Deal for Schools
Educators are now encouraging their oldest students to get the vaccine, with the hope that it will help normalize school operations.
10 min read
17-year-old cancer survivor Jordan Loughan receives a Pfizer vaccination at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta on Tuesday, March 23, 2021.
Seventeen-year-old cancer survivor Jordan Loughan receives a Pfizer vaccination for COVID-19 in Atlanta on March 23.
Curtis Compton/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP