Staff e-mails that contain personally identifiable student information or questions about compliance can come back to haunt your district, attorneys say.
Training your staff about wise e-mail etiquette can go a long way in protecting relationships with parents and students, not to mention avoiding costly litigation.
“E-mails are the most negative part of students’ records, because people send e-mails so quickly without thinking about what they are writing,” says Susan Freedman, a school attorney with Shipman & Goodwin LLP in Hartford, Conn. What’s more, many staff members think their computer is a private computer for their use in the school setting and are surprised to learn otherwise, she says.
School staff members must realize that when they send an e-mail, they are creating written documentation that could potentially wind up in the student’s file or be used as evidence in a due process hearing or state complaint, says Patrick Andriano, a school attorney with Reed Smith LLP in Richmond, Va. “This is something administrators need to reemphasize during in-service trainings,” he says.
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