A science teacher in Florida is being reprimanded and suspended for five days without pay after it was discovered he used a jammer to block mobile devices while he was teaching.
Dean Liptak was frustrated with students using cell phones in class and felt limited by the options at his disposal for dealing with the issue. He believes stopping the lesson to tell students to put their phones away detracts from “academic focus.”
School policy dictates students must hand over their phones for storage in a lock box, but if they refuse, teachers are then required to write a referral—losing further classroom focus. As Liptak explained, if these “referrals” add up, “the student is not permitted to attend extra school activities, which I believe is important to achieve academic success.”
Feeling he had no other choice, the teacher did some investigating on his own. He found jammers for sale on Amazon and videos on YouTube for constructing homemade devices. He claims he spoke with a police deputy concerning the legality of using one in class and was told, “There are no state laws against using them as long as you don’t use them for malicious intent.”
But in Superintendent Kurt Browning’s suspension letter to Liptak, he said the teacher had exercised “poor judgment” and had “posed a serious risk to critical safety communications as well as the possibility of preventing others from making 9-1-1 calls.”
As for legality, the FCC states, “federal law prohibits the operation, marketing, or sale of any type of jamming equipment.” Verizon chose not to prosecute Liptak in the matter.
According to a local CBS affiliate, “This is Liptak’s second strike with the district. The pro wrestler turned science teacher was reprimanded in 2013 after he used violent questions on a test referencing the velocity of a student thrown against a wall by a teacher and the mass of a car running over a baby.”
According to his own letter explaining his reasons for using the jammer, he states: “I only wanted to keep the students academically focused [sic].”