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New Message: Controversies Over School E-Mail

A handful of lawsuits and new policies over school e-mail are making headlines:

The Wisconsin Supreme Court next week will take up a case about whether e-mails composed by teachers on school computers, both personal and work-related, constitute public records under state law. The Wisconsin Rapids school district agreed to release the e-mail of five teachers, with student information redacted, to a local resident who made an open-records request. That prompted the teachers to sue alleging a violation of their privacy rights, the Wisconsin Rapids Tribune reports here. The Wisconsin high court takes up the case on Nov. 10.

Meanwhile, the Lawrence, Mass., Eagle-Tribune reported last week that a principal in the Lawrence school district has sued a school board member over an e-mail sent to other board members. The e-mail discussed the settlement of a previous lawsuit by the assistant principal, who was a gym teacher at the time. The new suit alleges that the board member's e-mail includes some false information and violated her privacy rights, according to this story in the Eagle-Tribune.

Finally, Katie Ash has this story in Education Week about policies requiring teachers to log electronic interactions with students via e-mail or cell phones. The policies are motivated in part to combat sexual abuse of minors by school employees, but some educators argue that there are many legitimate reasons they keep in touch with students electronically, the story reports.

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