The question of whether or not a teacher’s work email address should be a matter of public record is stirring debate in Nevada. Specifically, the Nevada Policy Research Institute is suing the Clark County School District after officials refused to release the email addresses of its 18,000 teachers. Also named in the suit are the Nevada Public Education Foundation and the county’s Public Education Foundation. Earlier correspondence from the foundations to the institute indicated that the foundations owned the licenses for the requested records, making it within their purview to make the decision about releasing the information.
The trouble began when the institute wanted to notify teachers about the limited opportunity to cancel their membership in the Clark County Education Association. Members of the association pay almost $800 in dues each year, and they are only able to drop their membership between July 1 and 15. The association is a union, and the conservative policy institute felt that more union members should be aware of their options.
District officials didn’t agree. Melinda Malone, a spokesperson for the district, contends that making email addresses a part of the public record would create abuse of a system that’s meant to be used only for official business. If email addresses were publicly available, Malone fears that it would cause “countless businesses and organizations to continuously solicit district teachers through their work email.”
Over district objections, the institute was able to obtain a few thousand of the pertinent addresses and sent out the union notifications to those teachers. Response to the effort was mixed, with some teachers being appreciative and others asking not to be contacted. An institute representative noted that the reaction of some teachers was so strong that they “cussed” at institute employees.
This is a situation that isn’t likely to be resolved any time soon. Nevada already provides the institute with the name, salary and title of all government employees, and the institute feels that no distinction should be made for work email address. For now, it remains a question for the court to decide.
If you are a California school administrator with a question about student/teacher safety, special education, accommodations, student rights, free speech or discipline, or school employment law, feel free to call attorney Richard Oppenheim at 818-461-8500. There is never a charge for an initial consultation and we can help you choose the best direction to resolve any school district legal issue.