Political Education

I am a firm believer in the democratic system. I am a firm believer that everyone should vote. I am also a firm believer that if you don't vote, you forfeit your right to complain about anything political. Voting is a privileged right but sometimes there are lines that can't be crossed.

The Loudon County school system has a vast tax payer funded computer communication system connecting schools, administrators, teachers, parents and students which allows for quick communication among all the participants. This is a good thing. But it is a bad thing when the system is abused.

At least two times during the current political contests, the system has been used to support Loudon County mayor candidate, Matt Brookshire in his campaign. Of course Brookshire is a Loudon County teacher and as such has access to the system.

The most recent violation of the system from last week was a teacher who used the email system to solicit supporters for an ad for Brookshire. The email was sent to the faculty of Philadelphia Elementary school.

Hey Guys,

I was asked to ask you all if you would like your name placed on an add supporting Matt Brookshire for Loudon County Mayor. You must live in Loudon County. It will cost nothing to you. If you would like to support Matt Brookshire, please send me your name by Thursday at lunch. The add will run in the Loudon News Herald.

An earlier email sent to all the faculty of Loudon High School:

Hey folks,

My good friend ........... has offered to have a meet Matt Brookshire meeting for LHS faculty at her house one day after school with coffee and cake. If you are interested in attending please e-mail me back and let me know so she can set it up

Thank You

These are the only two emails that have been brought to my attention. Hopefully there aren't any more. The LHS email was sent during school hours. The use of the school's email system for such partisan political support of a candidate is clearly a violation of board policy. Policy 1.805 in part states:

Electronic mail capability among board members and all district employees exists for the purpose of enhancing communication to better perform tasks associated with their positions and assignments. Therefore all employees and board members who have access to the district network shall adhere to the following guidelines when sending or receiving messages via systemwide-electronic mail (e-mail):

1. Because all computer hardware and software belong to the Board, all data including e-mail communications stored or transmitted on school system computers shall be monitored. Employees/board members have no right to privacy with regard to such data. Confidentiality of e-mail communication cannot be assured. E-mail correspondence may be a public record under the public records law and may be subject to public inspection.1

2. Messages shall pertain to legitimate board/district business; e-mail shall not be used to circumvent requirements of the Open Meetings Act.2

5. Messages shall not be sent that contain material that may be defined by a reasonable person as obscene or that are racist, sexist or promote illegal or unethical activity. Any usage contrary to the above shall be reported immediately to the technology director and may result in the suspension and/or revocation of system access or if deemed necessary, appropriate disciplinary action may be taken.

Director Of Schools, Wayne Honeycutt has been made aware of the misuse and has responded to the situation.

From: Wayne Honeycutt
To: Van Shaver, Board@loudoncounty.org
Date: Thu, 15 Jul 2010
Subject: RE: Political Emails
The issue has been addressed with both school administrators who are presently dealing with the individuals.  I will address this with all employees once the schools finish their discussions.  It will also be addressed on opening day as another reminder.