After the first test, I would've been more proactive with specifically watching Laura and Jessica with the first exam, because of their having "the exact same explanation", possibly to the point of making it apparent to them that I was concerned with them. However, once the instructor caught them cheating, she followed through accurately. Once finding out that they did cheat on the other test and exam, though, I would've given them a zero for those exams and referred them for disciplinary action. Then I would reiterate to the entire class the school policy regarding cheating, letting them know without any doubt, what consequences they should expect for their actions. This would also be a great time to discuss ethics and integrity with my students.
Banning all cell phones in my classroom would seem to be a knee-jerk, extreme reaction to an unfortunate situation. After using the cheating incident as a teaching tool on integrity, I would still allow cell phones to be on, with all sounds off, in the classroom; I believe this is in the best interest for the safety and security of the student. I would permit cell phones to be placed in the upper right hand of the student's desk, where I could see them, and where students would have access in the event of an emergency. I would also require that student's hands be visible on the top of the desk. However, if school policy dictated that cell phones would not be permitted in the classroom, then I would have to honor that policy, regardless of my personal feelings on the matter. I would then work within the system to try to get the policy modified, again, for the security and safety of the students.
Laura and Jessica, in my opinion, should be suspended for cheating and should receive a zero for each test when they cheated because there was enough evidence in their answers to indicate it was more than one time. Upon their return, I would have them sit in the front of my classroom, with their cell phones in the upper right hand corner of their desks and with their hands always visible to me, and they would be required to listen to my several talks on integrity. It would take a lot of time and effort on their part to earn my trust; therefore, I would be watching them like a hawk!
Prohibiting cell phones in schools would not be a good solution for the cheating issue, as I presented in the second paragraph above. I believe the policy to allow the cell phones to remain on a student's desk in full view of the instructor, while requiring the students to have their hands on their desks also in full view, would be a policy enforceable by each teacher. This would allow for safety and security as well as avoid any temptation the students may experience. Additionally, a strict policy should be developed by the school administration for violations of the cell phone policy, and even more strict for cheating....with or without a cell phone.
Integrating what I've learned into the classroom would be the policy that I've presented as a solution to the cheating problem. However, it's important to note that if a student wants or feels the need to cheat strongly enough, they will find a way to do so, with or without the cell phones. It is, unfortunately, a fact of life within the academic world as well as in the real world. Thus, teachers need to address integrity with students as well as examine their own instructional pedagogical emphasis in the classroom (i.e., emphasis on grades vs. knowledge acquired). While there may be decline in morality within our society, students need to be taught and to understand that even within our court system, there is a standard. Ethics may include a grey area, but integrity should not be compromised for technology.