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Despite School Rules, Cell Phones Often Matter of 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell'

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TWC News: Despite School Rules, Cell Phones Often Matter of 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell'
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As Mayor Bill de Blasio focused on rolling out universal pre-kindergarten, he's put some of his other education promises on the back-burner, even when it's an issue that hits home. NY1's Lindsey Christ filed the following report.

There's one rule many students in the city are allowed to break, every day, at school. Even the man who makes the rules lets his own son disobey it.

"Yes, he brings a cellphone," the mayor said.

Students are not allowed to bring cell phones into city schools, however. According to the chancellor's regulations, they're considered contraband, in the same category as weapons and drugs. It's a ban former Mayor Michael Bloomberg vigorously defended.

As a candidate for mayor, Bill de Blasio adamantly opposed, and pledged to repeal it.

"It's a safety issue for parents. If you can't keep track of your kids, you don't know they are safe," de Blasio said last April.

Since he's become mayor, though, the rule hasn't changed. Instead, schools like Brooklyn Tech, where Dante goes, simply look the other way.

"Don't ask. Don't tell," de Blasio said.

That's how the mayor describes it.

"Ninety percent of the students have their phones. I feel as if the phone is a necessity and just in case it's urgent, for an emergency with your family," said Mustafa Hossein, a student at Brooklyn Technical High School.

Elsewhere, though, students are still forced to follow the citywide rule, particularly schools with metal detectors, where students can't hide a phone in a backpack or pocket. Outside those schools, private businesses have cropped up, offering to store phones for a fee—which many students pay every day.

"Your parents want you to be safe, so they leave you to go to school with your phone, but we have to pay a dollar every day to leave your phone at the phone truck," said student Dania McEachern.

"My parents want me to have it a lot. They don't want me to leave the house without it," said student Irwin Pacheco.

Over the course of high school, a dollar a day adds up to $720.

"That's crazy. That's just ridiculous," Pacheco said.

The mayor says his team has simply been busy when it comes to education.

"Pre-k, after-school, community schools, the teachers’ contract, the training efforts," the mayor said.

He says he plans to lift the cell phone ban soon though, for the very reason he lets his son bring one.

"I think it is, for parents, very, very important to know how to reach their kids," de Blasio said.

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