Local elementary school parents react to cell phone ban in school zone law

A new law will go into effect Jan. 1 that will make it illegal to use a handheld cell phone in an active school zone. Adults 18 and over may use a hands-free device such as a Bluetooth, but those under 18 cannot use a cell phone at all.

An offense will be a Class C misdemeanor that can cost you up to $50.

Christina Kutz, a Knox County Sheriff’s Office employee and mother of a child at Farragut Primary School, said she supports the new law.

“You shouldn’t be using your cell phone in the morning when you’re in the line [of cars] getting the kids out,” Kutz, also a Farragut Primary PTA member, said.

Kutz said parents who are distracted by cell phones in the drop-off or pick-up lines has been an issue that Gina Byrd, FPS principal, and the PTA have discussed.

“We’ve talked about, as a PTA, getting signs saying put your phone down while you are in the circle during drop-offs in the morning,” Kutz said. “We’ve had instances in the mornings. It’s crazy. It’s wild out there. If you’re on your cell phone and not paying attention to the children, [it’s dangerous].

“Parents start lining up [to pick children up after school] at 1:45 or 1:50 [p.m.] at Farragut Primary School. If you’re there for 45 minutes sitting in the parking lot reading a book or on your cell phone, that’s one thing. … Once the bell rings and kids start coming out and the line starts proceeding, no, you shouldn’t be on your cell phone,” she added. “You’ve got to pay attention. The cars are moving in front of you, the kids are coming, they could drop something and it could roll under the car — you shouldn’t be on your cell phone.”

“Since so many people are addicted to their cell phones, this will be a quite an adjustment, but I’m thankful our State Legislature has made our children’s safety a priority by addressing this issue,” said Susan Horn, 5th District Knox County Board of Education representative that includes Farragut and Concord. “Following this law will not only increase the safety around our schools, but also set a good example for our students.”

“I don’t think you should be driving and talking on a cell phone anywhere,” said grandmother Susie Stinnett, who was the second car in a long pickup line at Northshore Elementary School Friday, Aug. 10.

Stinnett said she would agree with taking the law a step further and completely banning cell phone usage for drivers.