LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- A teacher at Iroquois High School sent a scathing letter to the top decision-makers in JCPS after cellphone video of a fight between another teacher and a student went viral.
The letter calls the district's cellphone policy a "miserable failure" and begs district officials to implement tighter restrictions on students and their phones.
The fight between 14-year-old Kamron Jennings and teacher Carrie Durham Adams exposed turmoil at the school. Several cellphone videos of the melee quickly emerged online, the third reported assault of an Iroquois staff member in October.
Jennings told WDRB News in an interview last week that the fight broke out after Adams, a science teacher at the school, asked him to put his cellphone away. She was filling in for another teacher's sixth period English class.
"We're allowed to have our cellphones out in class when we're doing our work," he said. "I was doing my work. I was doing my Reading Plus."
Another JCPS instructor believes the cellphones are the source of the problem. That instructor did not want us to use his name, but in a letter to JCPS officials, he laments what he calls "the miserable failure that is the district's cell phone policy" and asks that the district ban the devices in the classroom.
The instructor blames the devices for nine out of 10 fights, as students use them to access social media, bully other students and instigate fights. He added that students also use cellphone videos — such as the one posted of the previous fight — to gain popularity and "likes."
"Without the ability to ban cell phones, we are losing control of our students," he wrote.
JCPS board member Linda Duncan said the district has already banned students' use of cellphones during the school day, but it also granted schools waivers, because some teachers wanted to use the tech in the classroom.
"I was never in support of having cellphone use during the school day," she said. "I think, again, it's one of those things we've turned over to the schools. It's a school-by-school evaluation."
WDRB News obtained the instructor’s letter about student cellphone use through an open records request. In addition to criticizing Iroquois High School's cellphone policy, it goes on to blast what it characterizes as a lack of engagement by top-level administrators who visited the school to observe the behavioral problems of students.
"If you blinked, you might have missed them," the instructor wrote, adding that administrators left before lunch and didn't stay for the most difficult part of the day.
"I'm not too sure they were there to assess student behavior," Duncan said. "I think they were there to see the interaction and do a quick picture of what staff might need."
According to the instructor who wrote the letter, Iroquois piloted a device called the YONDR pouch last year. It magnetically locks away students' cellphones in a personalized case during class so students get to keep their phones, but not use them.
The instructor said there's data that shows the pouches increased learning and decreased suspensions, but they weren't implemented school-wide this year.
Jennings was suspended, arrested and charged with assault after the fight with the teacher. JCPS said Adams has been reassigned to administrative duties involving no contact with students while it continues to investigate.
A spokesperson said the district is still "finalizing plans" to support the school.
- Student arrested, teacher out of class after fight caught on video at Iroquois High School
- Student vs. teacher fight at Iroquois High School highlights concerns of teacher assaults in JCPS
Copyright 2019 WDRB Media. All Rights Reserved.