Teacher Suspended For Homemade Cellphone Jammer

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Teacher Suspended For Homemade Cellphone Jammer

Professional wrestler turned high school science teacher Dean Liptak has been suspended for using an illegal cell phone jammer in his class.

Anyone in any of the "older than high school kid" generations have no doubt said something along the lines of "kids these days spend too much time on their damn phones" at some point. I know I certainly have, and I can hardly imagine how frustrating it must be for the fine teachers of the world who have to try and get these kids to focus on their studies. The frustration of trying to teach people who are constantly glued to their phones proved too much for professional wrestler turned high school science teacher Dean Liptak, who utilized some kind of home-made cell phone jammer in his classes.

Liptak has been suspended without pay for five days following the incident, which the school board's superindentent described as an exercise in "poor judgement" which "posed a serious risk to critical safety communications as well as the possibility of preventing others from making 9-1-1 calls."

In his defense, Liptak stated that he never intended his device to be used for malicious means, and he could have switched it off at any time should an emergency arise. "My intent for using the device was to keep students academically focused on schoolwork. It is counter productive to stop instruction and lose academic focus when I have to tell a student to put his or her cell phone away."

The Federal Communications Commission, states that "federal law prohibits the operation, marketing, or sale of any type of jamming equipment." It is unclear where Liptak got his device from, but his letter to the school board describes YouTube videos that show users how to make their own home-made jammers.

Liptak was previously 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.

Source: Ars Technica

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I'd love to be one of his students. Think of how novel this situation is? The "our comms are being jammed!" jokes would never end!

Hell, I'll be honest, I support the teacher in this one. The damn thing having an easy to use switch or even a deadman, and making sure everyone knows "turn this off to use phones again" and it solves all the emergency problems while still being functional.

Legality wise... well, less then right there sadly. I wouldn't argue that the law against jammers is sort of dumb myself, but I think some special cases could really have positive benefits. Considering teachers have fewer and fewer means to actually do anything to stop kids from being assholes, a phone jammer seems reasonable for a guy to drift towards as a solution.

Perhaps he could just install some iron pipe in the walls, or have a couple powerful microwaves running at all times instead? Jamming devices may be illegal, but not the act of interfering with a signal itself through secondary means like a good old Faraday cage.

Wait, he was a wrestler and built his own cell phone jammer?
This guy is awesome.

I remember seeing a DIY video on making a hand-held jammer, one example of use was for some peace and quite while riding an elevator.

As for the previous reprimands, the baby/car thing is a bit much, but the student-velocity-at-wall question?

In the words of Nathan Explosion: "That's pretty fu--" *pinch harmonic* "--in' metal."

As someone who's taught students before (TESOL - teenage/adult class), I understand how frustrating it is to see students there who don't want to learn and, as much as I see how he thought it was a good idea, I can see problems arising right away.

Steven Bogos:
High School Teacher Suspended For Homemade Cellphone Jammer

Liptak has been suspended without pay for five days following the incident, which the school board's superindentent described as an exercise in "poor judgement" which "posed a serious risk to critical safety communications as well as the possibility of preventing others from making 9-1-1 calls."

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Oh, for fuck's sake. Fine, it may well be illegal to jam communications. But, seriously? The world was fine before everyone had a phone in their pocket to call 9-1-1 at the drop of a dime.

This is a bullshit line of reasoning. Yes, something might happen. Something always might happen. That's not a good rationale for dictating behaviour.

My biggest concern with this idea is my lack of understanding of jammers. Does it work in a radius? If so, doesn't that mean that unless the jammer is programmed to be just the size of the classroom, and is also dead center in the room, that the jammer would affect other classes that couldn't simply switch the thing off? Again, I could be off, so correct me if I'm wrong on that people.

The questions are odd but maybe he just has, you know, a sense of humor.

As for the jammer, if the device was actually capable of harming communications, sure, reprimand him, but a suspension seems like bullshit.

runic knight:
Hell, I'll be honest, I support the teacher in this one. The damn thing having an easy to use switch or even a deadman, and making sure everyone knows "turn this off to use phones again" and it solves all the emergency problems while still being functional.

The problem is the radius of the jammer. Let's say someone has a seizure in a different classroom and they need to call 911. Then it may confuse those in the other room why they suddenly can't make a call and they have to actually find the jammer in order to turn it off.

Now I understand this guy all too well. A cellphone jammer would be practical in schools to prevent communication, especially under tests, but I see it all to easy how this could lead to harm. I don't know about elsewhere, but we're getting rid of all land lines within next year so cell phones are soon the only way of communicating, but if every classroom had a land line this wouldn't be a bad idea.

Edit: Someone cleared it up for me that most schools in America have a land line in every class room making my point invalid. Please disregard my entire post.

First thing I thought of was Lesson of the Evil. Thought wrestling moves instead of an over-under shotgun would have been humourous to say the least.

Anyways, I can see where he's coming from. Don't necessarily agree with it (Kids who don't want to be there will do anything regardless of whether their phone is active or not) But at least he's only being slapped with a suspension and nothing heavier. Unless suspensions for teachers are really bad.

Bit silly to be upset over 'violent' questions though. When I was in Primary School our teacher read us a book where he'd kill the cast at the end of every chapter in various ways. It's just a sense of humour.

Yopaz:

runic knight:
Hell, I'll be honest, I support the teacher in this one. The damn thing having an easy to use switch or even a deadman, and making sure everyone knows "turn this off to use phones again" and it solves all the emergency problems while still being functional.

The problem is the radius of the jammer. Let's say someone has a seizure in a different classroom and they need to call 911. Then it may confuse those in the other room why they suddenly can't make a call and they have to actually find the jammer in order to turn it off.

Now I understand this guy all too well. A cellphone jammer would be practical in schools to prevent communication, especially under tests, but I see it all to easy how this could lead to harm. I don't know about elsewhere, but we're getting rid of all land lines within next year so cell phones are soon the only way of communicating, but if every classroom had a land line this wouldn't be a bad idea.

You live either in a world gone mad or a world of 100% perfect cell phone reception. But seriously, last time I checked, the schools in my area still had landlines because of a combination of spotty cell reception and that they provide a good way to allow communication between teachers and the main office. I don't know about the school in the article, but it's in the US so I would be amazed if it didn't have a landline system.

shirkbot:

Yopaz:

runic knight:
Hell, I'll be honest, I support the teacher in this one. The damn thing having an easy to use switch or even a deadman, and making sure everyone knows "turn this off to use phones again" and it solves all the emergency problems while still being functional.

The problem is the radius of the jammer. Let's say someone has a seizure in a different classroom and they need to call 911. Then it may confuse those in the other room why they suddenly can't make a call and they have to actually find the jammer in order to turn it off.

Now I understand this guy all too well. A cellphone jammer would be practical in schools to prevent communication, especially under tests, but I see it all to easy how this could lead to harm. I don't know about elsewhere, but we're getting rid of all land lines within next year so cell phones are soon the only way of communicating, but if every classroom had a land line this wouldn't be a bad idea.

You live either in a world gone mad or a world of 100% perfect cell phone reception. But seriously, last time I checked, the schools in my area still had landlines because of a combination of spotty cell reception and that they provide a good way to allow communication between teachers and the main office. I don't know about the school in the article, but it's in the US so I would be amazed if it didn't have a landline system.

I live in a modern country where we're moving away from analog signals because they are more expensive to maintain and offer no advantages over digital. This is what 21st century looks like.

Edit: Also, does every classroom have a separate land line? If not my point still stands.

Yopaz:
I live in a modern country where we're moving away from analog signals because they are more expensive to maintain and offer no advantages over digital. This is what 21st century looks like.

Edit: Also, does every classroom have a separate land line? If not my point still stands.

I sent a PM about the other bit, so I'll just address the edit: Yes. Teachers need to dial a special extension in order to call any number not within the school, but every classroom has, or at least had, its own landline phone.

capcha: I... I have no idea... I had to flip through over 20 capcha pictures before I found one I even thought I could read...

Yopaz:

shirkbot:

Yopaz:

The problem is the radius of the jammer. Let's say someone has a seizure in a different classroom and they need to call 911. Then it may confuse those in the other room why they suddenly can't make a call and they have to actually find the jammer in order to turn it off.

Now I understand this guy all too well. A cellphone jammer would be practical in schools to prevent communication, especially under tests, but I see it all to easy how this could lead to harm. I don't know about elsewhere, but we're getting rid of all land lines within next year so cell phones are soon the only way of communicating, but if every classroom had a land line this wouldn't be a bad idea.

You live either in a world gone mad or a world of 100% perfect cell phone reception. But seriously, last time I checked, the schools in my area still had landlines because of a combination of spotty cell reception and that they provide a good way to allow communication between teachers and the main office. I don't know about the school in the article, but it's in the US so I would be amazed if it didn't have a landline system.

I live in a modern country where we're moving away from analog signals because they are more expensive to maintain and offer no advantages over digital. This is what 21st century looks like.

Edit: Also, does every classroom have a separate land line? If not my point still stands.

I'd suggest that the ability to get a phone message out in the presence of digital jamming equipment is a pretty major advantage over digital :P

Seriously though, you're arguing convenience over necessity. It was never common to have a phone in each room of any building before we got mobiles and carried them everywhere, we managed fine having to move short distances to get emergency signals out, that fact has not changed just because we're used to being connected 24-7. Frankly, I'd support any legislation that exempted schools from any anti-jamming laws (and cinemas, god don't get me started on the ignorant, self-centred morons who think it's ok to ruin everyone else's experience "'cus Chantelle texted and she's totes got some hot goss!").

Florida is completely retarded anyway. Here's a country that stands to lose the most because of climate change, and they don't even believe that it's real. Hard to have sympathy for such idiots. They also have that stupid "stand your ground" law. So this latest example of idiocy doesn't surprise me either.

So a wrestler-turned-science-teacher made an illegal signal jammer to keep kids off their cells, and he's had issue before with violent descriptions? That's sounds like something out of an Adult Swim show. (Hence the Nathan Explosion quote above.)

Couldn't he have just threatened to power bomb (preferably the tactical nuke from Metroid, but I guess the wrestling move suits him better) or suplex any brat that can't keep their phone tucked away for 50 minutes? Sure, that is illegal too, but who knows how effective his jammer could have been. Also, wasn't he allowed to confiscated them at least for the duration of the class, if they became a problem? When I was in high school a decade ago, my district acted like a totalitarion communist dictatorship and confiscated phones, cd players, handhelds and the like, even if you were just in the hall minding you own business well before the first class of the day.

I also can understand his predicament, though. I was in a class about metal cutting tools for a month in a room with computers for everyone, and almost everyone else had random youtube vids or some unrelated website popped up during the lectures. And that was a group of people ranging from mid 20s to 50s.

Honestly I'm in more support with this teacher or rather I don't get why the entire school boards don't have one already, that is if they can afford it?

Obviously we all know the teacher are not stupid to keep it on during an emergency or there should be a clear off button on it.

heh. Well, that's a bit extreme, but I can understand the temptation.

Fun fact, I'm a student pilot, and this made me even more curious as to why mobile phones have to be switched off during a flight...

Well, I finally got an answer or two, and it's kind of surprising.

Firstly, yes, they do interfere with onboard equipment. (radio equipment. You can hear interference on the radios sometimes if there's nearby mobile phones)

But the reason they are banned is actually because early on when we had analog phones, some models of phone would jam the cell tower network if taken to high altitude.

Remember that at ground level you have maybe half a dozen towers visible to any given phone. These towers all have to process a signal from your phone.

Now imagine you fly over a city at 20,000 feet. Your mobile is now potentially in range of thousands of mobile phone masts all at once. Which, as it turns out, with certain combinations of old analogue phones and infrastructure could... In effect cripple ALL of the towers your phone connected to, because they weren't intended to handle that.

So... In theory, a phone on an airliner could cripple mobile phone coverage over a huge area.

Weird, isn't it? XD

But seriously though, who thought it was a good idea to stick a jammer in a classroom?
And how far is the reach of that jammer?

It's not nessesarily just the classroom itself you are jamming. You could be jamming signals over a much wider area.
Being able to turn it off is meaningless if you are jamming signals half a block away where people don't have the slightest clue what it is that is jamming the signal.

You might be able to turn it off in an emergency IF you see the emergency in that one classroom.
But if it's not there, you may well be messing things up for people quite far away who would have no idea you are jamming the signal, and neither would you know you are messing up their signal...

Not a good idea.

CrystalShadow:
heh. Well, that's a bit extreme, but I can understand the temptation.

Fun fact, I'm a student pilot, and this made me even more curious as to why mobile phones have to be switched off during a flight...

Well, I finally got an answer or two, and it's kind of surprising.

Firstly, yes, they do interfere with onboard equipment. (radio equipment. You can hear interference on the radios sometimes if there's nearby mobile phones)

But the reason they are banned is actually because early on when we had analog phones, some models of phone would jam the cell tower network if taken to high altitude.

Remember that at ground level you have maybe half a dozen towers visible to any given phone. These towers all have to process a signal from your phone.

Now imagine you fly over a city at 20,000 feet. Your mobile is now potentially in range of thousands of mobile phone masts all at once. Which, as it turns out, with certain combinations of old analogue phones and infrastructure could... In effect cripple ALL of the towers your phone connected to, because they weren't intended to handle that.

So... In theory, a phone on an airliner could cripple mobile phone coverage over a huge area.

Weird, isn't it? XD

But seriously though, who thought it was a good idea to stick a jammer in a classroom?
And how far is the reach of that jammer?

It's not nessesarily just the classroom itself you are jamming. You could be jamming signals over a much wider area.
Being able to turn it off is meaningless if you are jamming signals half a block away where people don't have the slightest clue what it is that is jamming the signal.

You might be able to turn it off in an emergency IF you see the emergency in that one classroom.
But if it's not there, you may well be messing things up for people quite far away who would have no idea you are jamming the signal, and neither would you know you are messing up their signal...

Not a good idea.

Preeeeetty sure the radius isn't half a block, as I'm almost certain that people everywhere would be getting angry every time someone made a jamming device.

But still, I kinda get where some people are coming from, but he could always limit the range to the classroom. Really wouldn't be that hard.

Also, the whole "THEY COULDN'T CALL 9-1-1!" bullshit? Bugger off, people have survived an emergency without immediately being able to hyperventilate to a responder. Christ, in my primary school we were all taught that if in an emergency where you couldn't get an adult, just use the land line in any damn room and press 0-0-0 (far more convenient to a child's brain that 9-1-1 if I do say so myself)

Lil_Rimmy:

CrystalShadow:

Preeeeetty sure the radius isn't half a block, as I'm almost certain that people everywhere would be getting angry every time someone made a jamming device.

But still, I kinda get where some people are coming from, but he could always limit the range to the classroom. Really wouldn't be that hard.

Also, the whole "THEY COULDN'T CALL 9-1-1!" bullshit? Bugger off, people have survived an emergency without immediately being able to hyperventilate to a responder. Christ, in my primary school we were all taught that if in an emergency where you couldn't get an adult, just use the land line in any damn room and press 0-0-0 (far more convenient to a child's brain that 9-1-1 if I do say so myself)

Yeah, yeah. Though no school I was ever in has a phone in every classroom. Pretty much only the admin area has phones in fact.
And yes, we survived just fine without mobiles, but there are more than a few emergencies where every second really does count.

As for the radius of a jamming device, a device like that would (hopefully) not have a range that absurdly large, but you have to remember this kind of stuff isn't an exact science. Signals get reflected off stuff, attenuated by walls, scattered by various things...
Much of it is dependent on the wavelength the devices in qeustion operate on, but that aside, tuning a device cabable of jamming a phone signal isn't likely to be an exact science.
Nor are it's effects going to be a clean on/off kind of thing. In anything but a completely open area, the exact area of effect is going to be quite chaotic.

Which classroom it's in could also impact what effect it has in a neighbourhood, how big the school is, the presence of other buildings... This isn't trivial stuff.

For instance, I can get a wifi signal from my own router while 2 streets down. Wifi isn't the same as a mobile phone signal (wifi typically has shorter range)
Jamming the signal is going to be worse, because you either have to be exploiting something fundamental about how devices connect to an access point, or you have to overpower every other signal in the area that a device might be able to pick up.
(so that you can't make out an actual signal anymore amongst all the noise)
Jamming a small controlled area isn't anywhere near as easy as it sounds.

These things are illegal for a reason, not just because governments like to ruin everyone's fun.

You know how the military solves this problem? Locking cubby holes or a bin with peoples names on the phones.

No idea what the radius of the device is, or anything about the area around the classroom- I don't really mind a teacher using something like that to keep kids off their phones in class, so long as they know about it- but it's unacceptable if he's influencing nearby classrooms.

If it's somehow just his room, and his students know about it, they can tell him privately if they actually need their cell to work- for emergency calls and the like. If it affects nearby rooms, that makes it more complicated than just "No it's fine I'll switch it off if I see there's an emergency"

You gotta admit he does sound a bit sketchy. I do however very much doubt he meant anything malicious towards his students, but schools (especially in the US (no offence)) have got to be careful, and be seen doing all they can to ensure student safety.

If a kid still uses their phone in class after being told not to - take it off them. Quite simple really. Im sure the school has rules stating kids cant use phone in class.

? We could call 911 long before we had cell phones. It might be more useful to implement these blockers than to suspend a teacher for using one. Though I suppose that does depend on the range of the jammer. If it was school-wide and the school didn't roll out an intercom system or have phones in regular areas then I could see that being a problem.

SonOfVoorhees:
If a kid still uses their phone in class after being told not to - take it off them. Quite simple really. Im sure the school has rules stating kids cant use phone in class.

They do, see the linked Ars Technica article. Frankly, he sounds like an absolutely terrible teacher. He doesn't want to confiscate phones because it is "unproductive" to do so, and he doesn't want to punish students for playing with their phones, refusing to allow them to be confiscated and generally not doing anything they're told, because the punishment would not be conducive to their academic success. In other words, he can't be arsed to actually do his job and refuses to exercise any kind of authority over his students, but having discovered this approach didn't actually work and people just ignored him to play on their phones he decided to take matters into his own hands in an illegal, poorly researched manner instead of just following the school's rules.

The particularly stupid part is that there's nothing special about phones. We didn't even have mobile phones when I was in school, but we still managed to find plenty of ways to dick around in class. What would this teacher have done if someone was playing cards, reading comics, playing with tamogochis, yo-yos, or whatever the latest craze is (yes, those were both issues when I was in school)? Blocking phone signals isn't going to magically make kids start paying attention, they've been failing to pay attention in class for as long as classes have existed. You don't fix that by partially disabling the functionality of one particular thing they're playing with, you do it by actually being a competent teacher.

As for the radius, it's not just the radius of the jammer that's the issue here. As noted in the Ars Technica article (and others such as here), Verizon found out about this because he was blocking the signal from the local cell tower. So it wasn't just a few classrooms affected, but anyone in the area whose phone tried to connect to that tower. Which is exactly the kind of reason jammers are illegal; they're almost certainly going to affect a lot more people than you think.

Lightknight:
? We could call 911 long before we had cell phones.

And we could drink water long before we invented sanitation. That doesn't mean it's a good idea to go around randomly cutting off access to people's drinking water. People adapt to the society they live in. Someone from a few thousand years ago would be fine foraging for their own water, but if you cut off the supply in a major city millions of people would die. Similarly, someone from 20 years ago who lives in a world filled with landlines and phone boxes will be able to use them easily, but someone used to ubiquitous mobile phones and who hasn't even seen a phone box in years isn't going to respond as quickly if they find their phone suddenly doesn't work for no apparent reason. I always used to carry a phone card for emergencies before mobiles became common; now I can't even remember the last time I saw a phone box.

As a teacher of 14-something fuckers I approve of this wrestler-turned-scientist and his method.

They still have landlines at a school. This would not prevent anyone from dialing 911. In fact, most schools have a LANDLINE PHONE IN EVERY ROOM.

Kahani:

Lightknight:
? We could call 911 long before we had cell phones.

And we could drink water long before we invented sanitation. That doesn't mean it's a good idea to go around randomly cutting off access to people's drinking water. People adapt to the society they live in. Someone from a few thousand years ago would be fine foraging for their own water, but if you cut off the supply in a major city millions of people would die. Similarly, someone from 20 years ago who lives in a world filled with landlines and phone boxes will be able to use them easily, but someone used to ubiquitous mobile phones and who hasn't even seen a phone box in years isn't going to respond as quickly if they find their phone suddenly doesn't work for no apparent reason. I always used to carry a phone card for emergencies before mobiles became common; now I can't even remember the last time I saw a phone box.

If it is a known policy put in place then it isn't an issue and other infrastructure can be put in place. Like having a classroom phone or intercom.

I'm not talking about them putting this in place without contingencies but everyone having a phone doesn't make them safer. The vast majority of the time it just means they get a worse education.

It isn't their right to have a cell phone on their person and using it.

Alar:
They still have landlines at a school. This would not prevent anyone from dialing 911. In fact, most schools have a LANDLINE PHONE IN EVERY ROOM.

Landline and an intercom system with dual feedback (can be called and spoken through from both sides via an access panel).

shirkbot:

Yopaz:

runic knight:
Hell, I'll be honest, I support the teacher in this one. The damn thing having an easy to use switch or even a deadman, and making sure everyone knows "turn this off to use phones again" and it solves all the emergency problems while still being functional.

The problem is the radius of the jammer. Let's say someone has a seizure in a different classroom and they need to call 911. Then it may confuse those in the other room why they suddenly can't make a call and they have to actually find the jammer in order to turn it off.

Now I understand this guy all too well. A cellphone jammer would be practical in schools to prevent communication, especially under tests, but I see it all to easy how this could lead to harm. I don't know about elsewhere, but we're getting rid of all land lines within next year so cell phones are soon the only way of communicating, but if every classroom had a land line this wouldn't be a bad idea.

You live either in a world gone mad or a world of 100% perfect cell phone reception. But seriously, last time I checked, the schools in my area still had landlines because of a combination of spotty cell reception and that they provide a good way to allow communication between teachers and the main office. I don't know about the school in the article, but it's in the US so I would be amazed if it didn't have a landline system.

Yeah I'm pretty certain its a school policy to have a batphone in every classroom for emergencies, since cellphones are actually not perfect.

I support the teacher as long as he had the radius on the jammer tuned down to just his classroom. The previous reprimands actually make him seem pretty well adjusted to teaching todays kids. That kind of language might have been a problem twenty years ago, but kids are pretty desensitized today and would just find that amusing. That kind of humor is mainstay in most Saturday morning cartoons anymore.

"I think there might be an emergency of some kind going on! I'd better switch off my doohickey!"

visiblenoise:
"I think there might be an emergency of some kind going on! I'd better switch off my doohickey!"

Or, how about they hit the panic button on the intercom panel that is still standard in every classroom?

Cartographer:

I'd suggest that the ability to get a phone message out in the presence of digital jamming equipment is a pretty major advantage over digital :P

Cost of maintenance, cost of fixing damages, vulnerability to damages in storms and of course convenience.

Seriously though, you're arguing convenience over necessity. It was never common to have a phone in each room of any building before we got mobiles and carried them everywhere, we managed fine having to move short distances to get emergency signals out, that fact has not changed just because we're used to being connected 24-7. Frankly, I'd support any legislation that exempted schools from any anti-jamming laws (and cinemas, god don't get me started on the ignorant, self-centred morons who think it's ok to ruin everyone else's experience "'cus Chantelle texted and she's totes got some hot goss!").

I mentioned seizures in my last post. Yes, it s8ure is convenient to be able to call 911 when someone is having a seizure. Is it necessary? In many cases, yes. Oh well, since I have already been proven wrong about the presence of land lines I guess it doesn't matter. Sorry if I came across as rude.

shirkbot:

I sent a PM about the other bit, so I'll just address the edit: Yes. Teachers need to dial a special extension in order to call any number not within the school, but every classroom has, or at least had, its own landline phone.

capcha: I... I have no idea... I had to flip through over 20 capcha pictures before I found one I even thought I could read...

In that case my point is not applicable to this case and I am wrong. I'll edit my post. I hope I didn't come across as rude and thanks for making me slightly more informed about the state of American schools. Now have a great weekend.

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