A high school teacher in Tampa Bay, Florida, has been suspended without pay for using a jamming device to keep students off their cellphones.
Science teacher Dean Liptak will spend five days on the naughty step at Fivay High School for employing a device that prevented nearby phones from making or receiving calls, sending and receiving texts, and connecting to the internet. Liptak is said to have only intended to jam phones in his classroom, though the jammer impacted service in a much larger area.
According to local news station WTSP, the jammer was only uncovered when Verizon visited the school to investigate service disruptions, and found that the device was blocking reception on a nearby cell tower.
Though jamming mobile phones is illegal in the US, Verizon chose not to prosecute Liptak, so the teacher will only face the short suspension and the admiration of millions of parents throughout the US who would love to do the same thing with their teens' handsets.
Kidding aside, Uncle Sam has a history of prosecuting those who use jammers. Last year, a US man was fined $48,000 by the FCC for using a jamming device to disable the phones of nearby motorists.
Jamming devices are illegal because they can prevent people from calling emergency services, posing a public safety hazard.
"The consequences could have been dire," Pasco County school district spokesperson Linda Cobe told WTSP. "If he was jamming the signal so 911 calls can't be made. It would affect an emergency in the school."
For his part, Liptak said he only used the jamming device to keep students focused on their coursework, and disconnected the jammer as soon as he learned it was creating a problem outside his classroom.
"It is counter productive to stop instruction and lose academic focus when I have to tell a student to put his or her cellphone away. It is also unproductive to confiscate a cell phone, put it in the school approved box and keep it until the end of the period," he wrote in a letter [PDF].
"This is our school policy, and if a student refuses to relinquish his or her cell phone, I have to write a referral and lose additional academic focus in my classroom." ®