School Board Email
A counsellor receives a call from a teacher about a school board's plan to set up an internal email system so teachers can communicate with colleagues, students, parents, and school board officials. The teacher is worried that this is just another time-consuming impediment to the actual task of teaching. Does the teacher have to participate?
Teachers have the right not to participate in this voluntary activity. The board has the right to initiate, define, and regulate a system. Email systems are not a secure or private way to communicate. Most boards retain the right to monitor their systems to prevent inappropriate or illegal use and track computer use. Teachers who do not want to be part of the board's system should indicate this to the principal and/or appropriate board official.
There are two distinctions to be made when using email. Whether you use a home email address or the board's address is important, as is whether the intent of the communication is business or personal. Teachers are advised not to use personal email addresses for communication with parents and/or students.
Teachers should be aware that you invite email recipients into your personal space by using your home email address. A hard copy of such messages can more easily be taken out of context. When it comes to teacher-student correspondence, the informality, frequency, or style of email may concern some parents.
Some teachers report that they receive multiple email messages from students and parents during the evening and on weekends, as well as during school time. When these messages are received at home, the volume and frequency can become a burden. Is the teacher shirking teaching duties if a response is not timely? What constitutes a timely response? Teachers have not previously been accessible 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Students who are no longer in the teacher's class may use this form of communication to seek added assistance in particular subject areas, infringing upon personal time.
It is important to remember that once email is sent, the author loses control of the context and contents.
There are many reasons for caution. In some cases, teachers using board systems have been questioned and disciplined for email material they sent. Some inappropriate or damaging messages sent to colleagues were subsequently forwarded or reproduced and given to principals or board officials.