COMMONWEALTH OF VIRGINIA
DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION
P. O. BOX 2120
RICHMOND, VIRGINIA 23218-2120
SUPTS. MEMO. NO. 152
September 13, 1996

INFORMATIONAL

TO: Division Superintendents
FROM:
 
Richard T. La Pointe
Superintendent of Public Instruction
SUBJECT:
 
 
Transmittal of a recent Opinion of the Virginia Attorney 
General Addressing 18.2-322.1 of the Code of Virginia 
and Cellular Telephones

 
  Attached please find a copy of the recent formal opinion
  from James S. Gilmore, III, Attorney General, to the
  Honorable William C. Mims, member, House of Delegates,
  addressing whether a cellular telephone is a similar
  portable communication device within the prohibition of
  18.2-322.1 (A).
  
  Background:  Virginia's criminal code makes it unlawful
  for any person in possession or control of a beeper or
  similar portable communications device to be upon the
  grounds of any public or private elementary, middle, or
  secondary school.  There is an exclusion to the prohibition
  for school official, security officer, teacher, support
  employee, rescue squad...[See: 18.2-322.1(D)].
  
  Issue:  Whether a cellular phone is a "similar portable
  communications device" and thus within the prohibition of
  18.2-322.1 (A).
  
  Decision:  While a cellular phone is a portable
  communications device, it is not similar to a beeper. 
  Consequently, the Attorney General concludes that a cellular
  telephone is not a similar portable communication device
  within the prohibition of this statute.
  
  Questions about this opinion should be addressed to your
  local school board attorney.
  
  RTL/dta
  
  Attachment:  This memo and its attachment will be sent to
               the superintendent's office.