Don't freak out on me about your cell phone, damn it! We've got rules against that!

At this point, the folks at Aurora Public Schools really, really don't want to talk about an incident in which a Hinkley High student allegedly attacked a substitute teacher for taking her cell phone -- and related subjects are basically off-limits as well. Regarding the assault, media-relations specialist Paula Hans offers only an extra-general statement (on view below) focusing on a commitment to safety, etc. In addition, she does her best to shut down questions about the frequency of student violence against staffers (she doesn't recall a similar incident taking place since she came to the position in July 2007, and before that, she has no idea) or how many cell phones or other electronic items are confiscated at Hinkley or any other APS facility in a day, a week, a month, a year (if such stats are kept, she hasn't heard about them). What a gusher of information.

However, Hans does confirm that the district's discipline code gives principals wide latitude about how to deal with rules at their school pertaining to electronic devices. These guidelines treat cell phones and other gadgets like the unruliest children during the Victorian age: They shouldn't be heard or seen.

Here's the statement about the student-on-teacher smackdown:

"We are in the process of investigating allegations concerning a student and substitute teacher. Student and staff safety is a top priority at Hinkley High School and throughout Aurora Public Schools. We are committed to maintaining a safe environment in our schools and inappropriate behavior of any type will not be tolerated. We have contacted the Aurora Police Department about the allegations and are fully cooperating with their investigation. At this point, we have no further information because this incident is under investigation."

And here's the cell-phone edict from the code linked above:

CELL PHONES -- ELECTRONIC DEVICES: Aurora Public Schools believes in "providing environments that optimize learning and teaching and are safe, secure, and well-maintained." As such, an except for approved educational purposes, all personal electronic devices shall not be seen, used, nor heard during the school day on Aurora Public School property by students grades K-12. Cell phones--electronic devices are defined as cell phones, IPODs, CD players, PSPs, Blackberries, cameras, electronic games, etc.

In APS, cell-phone infractions fall into two categories: "Minor," which can prompt conferences or so-called "interventions" (like an in-school suspension), or "Severe," potentially leading to suspensions, emergency removal, reassignment or, in extremely severe severe cases, expulsion.

Given that expulsion is also the remedy listed for assault, the student at the center of the latest brouhaha will likely be outta Hinkley in short order -- not that Hans will discuss it. In the meantime, the rest of you children keep your phones to yourself.

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts