Las Vegas school district refuses to turn over teacher email addresses

Mar 30, 2013 by

LAS VEGAS – Las Vegas is a city of excess, and that mindset extends all the way to its school district headquarters.

The cash-strapped Clark County School District has decided to lawyer up and shoulder untold legal costs in order to fight an open records request from a libertarian think tank for teachers’ email addresses.

The Nevada Policy Research Institute (NPRI) is suing the district for the email addresses of all 18,000 Clark County public school teachers, reports the Las Vegas Sun. NPRI researchers have been attempting to obtain the addresses since June 2012, but have been consistently rebuffed by district officials.

The district has offered two reasons for denying the group’s open records request.

Clark County school leaders are taking the absurd position that educators’ government-provided email addresses are part of their personnel records and need to be “safeguarded,” reports MyNews3.com.

NPRI Communications Director Victor Joecks completely disagrees.

“These are government-provided email addresses, provided to government employees to do their government jobs,” Joecks told the Sun. “It’s public information. The school district doesn’t get to act as a gatekeeper to public information.”

The district’s other reason is even feebler.

“We don’t our teachers inundated with spam,” said school district spokeswoman Melinda Malone, according to the Sun.

In other words, Clark County school officials believe they can deny an open records request – which is an essential tool that citizens, journalists, and watchdog groups use to ensure accountability and transparency in schools and other government agencies – just so their teachers don’t receive unsolicited email.

That’s a ridiculous argument for anyone to make – even more so, coming from school leaders who are in charge of a $2 billion budget.

It’s difficult to imagine the school district not being laughed out of court when the case comes to trial.

Some might be wondering why a libertarian think tank wants 18,000 teacher email addresses.

Even though the group’s reason for requesting the public information is completely immaterial to the case, NPRI leaders have been upfront about their intentions.

The think tank wants to continue a project it started last year, in which NPRI sent emails to about 12,000 Clark County teachers, notifying them of their right to quit the local teachers union during a brief two-week window in July.

“Even though the list we used last summer was woefully incomplete, when the CCSD teachers learned of their options, more than 800 exited CCEA,” NPRI’s Andy Matthews told MyNews3.com.

That goes to show that that one person’s “spam” email might be another person’s ticket to professional freedom.

As Matthews put it, “The principle in this lawsuit is about more than just one specific request. The court should send a clear message to CCSD that delaying and denying public-records requests – whether from NPRI, media organizations or private citizens – is illegal and must stop.”

No court date has been set for the lawsuit.

via Las Vegas school district refuses to turn over teacher email addresses – EAGnews.org :: Education Research, Reporting, Analysis and Commentary.

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