The principal notifies a member that a disciplinary meeting has been scheduled for the next day with the board’s Superintendent of Human Resources. The member is the author of an email message that contains derogatory opinions about another employee. This is in contravention of a school board policy that governs employee use of electronic communications. All employees at this board, including the member, sign a document agreeing to abide by the school board policy.
The member is advised to seek assistance and support throughout the process from their local OECTA unit president. The principal is advised that the member will attend the meeting subject to the unit president's availability.
This case illustrates two issues:
- inappropriate use of board email systems, and
- attendance at disciplinary meetings.
Most school board policies make it clear that the email system is to be used for professional purposes only. These policies prohibit attacks on personnel, use of foul or inappropriate language or comments, and exchanges of confidential information about students or personnel. When such material is widely broadcast by the sender or recipient, the damage is compounded. Disapproval about a decision or board action should not be aired through the school board email system.
When members are called to meet with a school board superintendent for a disciplinary meeting, they are entitled to be accompanied by an OECTA representative. Jurisprudence is clear that any discipline the employer might impose could be jeopardized in arbitration if the employer denies this request. Members should insist upon rights to representation because enlightened employers will be willing to accommodate.