The Joys of E-mail

09 October 2005

I check my school e-mail from home during the weekend. It is not uncommon for kids or parents to have an inquiry. Other teachers check in, too, with things that they are thinking about. I had a bit of surprise yesterday.

A teacher in my district had sent a teacher in another district an e-mail about curriculum materials. The e-mail also had some other specific district information that is not yet considered "public." None of this would be a big deal, except the receiving teacher chose to post it to a state-wide listserv. Eek!

One thing my Boss Lady does not like---and can get me in the most trouble---is for district information to come to her from sources other than me. It may be very unlikely that this could happen with this recent e-mail, but it is still possible.

I sent an e-mail to the receiving teacher asking her nicely not to publicly post any more information about the district until she had checked with me. The teacher who had sent the message did not ask her to forward it---I'm sure he thought he was asking for some information, person-to-person. I know the receiving teacher meant well...that she thought she was helping by putting his question out to a wider audience. And if we're lucky, no damage will be done.

We are constantly reminded in my district that e-mail is not a private communication. If it is generated with district software on a district server, it can be asked to be viewed by community members (public dollars fund the schools) or subpoenaed in court. I can think of several occasions where I've had someone tell me that they would only talk about an issue in person so that there was no "paper trail." Oh, I wish that had happened this time.

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