The Repository @ St. Cloud State

Open Access Knowledge and Scholarship

Date of Award


Culminating Project Type


Degree Name

Educational Administration and Leadership, K-12: Ed.D.


Educational Administration and Higher Education


School of Education

First Advisor

Roger Worner

Second Advisor

Kay Worner

Third Advisor

James Johnson

Fourth Advisor

David Lund

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Keywords and Subject Headings

Cell phone, cell phone policy, principal, high school, personal electronic device


As cell phone use has become commonplace in society, school leaders have debated the positive and negative impacts of permitting cell phone use in schools (Kiema, 2015). In 2015, New York City public schools removed their cell phone ban for 1.1 million students (Allen, 2015). A reason for reversing the ban was that the policy had a disproportionate impact on low students who were more likely to have their cell phones confiscated because of metal detectors in the schools they attended (Allen, 2015). The New York City cell phone ban also proved extremely difficult to consistently and effectively enforce (Allen, 2015).

Students in France ages 15 years and younger were banned from bringing cell phones to school in 2018 (Busby, 2018). French Education Minister Jean-Michel Blanquer cited public health concerns over excessive screen time use and decreased socialization for children (Wamsley, 2017). Parent groups who opposed the ban pointed out the problems associated with keeping phones out of schools, such as equitably enforcing the policy and lack of parent support (Wamsley, 2017).

Research findings suggest banning cell phone use increases student achievement, for example a study of English public high schools found an improvement in student performance on standardized test scores in schools which banned the use of cell phones (Beland & Murphy, 2015). The study asserted that banning cell phones had the greatest impact on the academic performance of low-achieving students and no significant impact on the scores of higher achieving students (Beland & Murphy, 2015). Research is limited measuring the impacts of different types of cell phone use policies.

The conceptual framework of the study was derived from research conducted by Obringer and Coffey (2007) who surveyed high school principals in the United States designed to determine principals’ perceptions of school cell phone policies, cell phone use by teachers and school safety issues involving the use of cell phones. The study replicated and, in some cases, modified survey questions from the Obringer and Coffey study in order to compare findings with the Obringer and Coffey study.

The purpose of the study was to determine Minnesota high school (Grades 9-12) principals’ perceptions of the effectiveness of their school districts’ cell phone policies and their perceptions of the impact of teacher and student cell phone use in the classroom on student learning. The results of the study are intended to be used to assist school principals and other policy makers in the formulation of policies regulating the use of cell phones in schools.


Outside of the responsibilities of being a parent to three beautiful children, the process of writing this dissertation has been the greatest challenge of my life. It could not have been completed without the constant support and sacrifices of my wife Carly, who is every bit responsible for the completion of this dissertation as I have been. Thank you also to my mother Janet for giving so much of their time to make this project a possibility.

Thank you to Dr. Nick Miller for inspiring me to begin the journey of educational leadership and pursue the principalship. You are the best mentor that anyone could have, and I am forever grateful for your wisdom and caring.

Thank you to my chairperson Dr. Roger Worner and committee member Dr. Kay Worner for guiding me through the Education Leadership program at Saint Cloud State University. The dissertation is impossible without your contributions. My philosophy of leadership has developed through your teaching, shaped by the experience of two extraordinary careers.

Thank you to Dr. James Johnson and Dr. David Lund for serving on the dissertation committee. Your experience as secondary principals was invaluable to the study and I leaned on your experience often throughout the process.

Finally, thank you to the educators who I have worked with and have supported me throughout my career. First, thank you to Mary Beck who was my role model as a School Counselor, showing me how to always place students’ needs first and raising expectations for me as an educator. Thank you to the amazing team at Buffalo Community Middle School who have always done what’s best for students. Thank you to Jennie Kelly and Charlie Bakker in St. Michael, Minnesota for their mentorship and total support.



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