Taxpayers provide the staff at the Prince William County Schools with various IT resources that they’re supposed to use for their jobs. These include the usual things like email systems, websites, and computers that we’re all pretty familiar with in our jobs. When we start using our work computers and the IT resources of our employers, we’re usually doing so subject to policies that dictate that we’re not supposed to use these resources for personal business. That holds true with our public employees, who are restricted by regulation from using public resources for personal business, including political activity.
They do anyways, and some members of the School Board couldn’t care less.
Selected sections of PWCS Regulation 295-1 “General School Administration”:
Activities in direct support of this purpose such as professional development, administrative communications, grant applications, new project announcements, and student product publishing, are acceptable. It is the general policy that Prince William County Public Schools’ network facilities are to be used in a responsible, efficient, ethical and legal manner in accordance with the instructional mission of the school division. Faculty and students must acknowledge their understanding of the general policy and guidelines as a condition of receiving access to the network.
Failure to adhere to this regulation and the standards below will result in disciplinary action, including revocation of the offender’s network access privilege by the building administrator. Willful misuses will lead to serious disciplinary action and/or to criminal prosecution under applicable state and federal law…
The following is a non-inclusive list of examples of unacceptable actions or activities…
10. Any use of a forum for communicating by email or any other medium with school users or outside parties to solicit, proselytize, advocate, or communicate the views of an individual or non-school sponsored organization…No employee shall provide names, email addresses, or other personal information to outside parties whose intent is to communicate with school employees, students or their families for non-school purposes;
11. Sending mass emails to school users or outside parties for school or non-school purposes without the permission of an administrator;
12. Use of the PWCS Network for political purposes, including any use requiring students to convey or deliver any materials that (a) advocate the election or defeat of any candidate for public office; (b) advocate the passage or defeat of any referendum question; (c) advocate the passage or defeat of any matter pending before the School Board, the Prince William County Board of Supervisors, or the General Assembly of Virginia, or the Congress of the United States;
I’ve gotten a lot of info from confidential sources that school staff has been willfully violating this policy when it comes to defending the questionable “Math Investigations” program. Here’s one case in point that I can share with you now:
From: Linda Zborofsky [mailto:email@example.com]
Sent: Friday, January 16, 2009 8:44 AM
To: Karen Bazin; Ayanna Burris; Brenda Hamlett; Kathleen Harhai; Nancy Joseph; Michiko Kraft; Marian Lomis; Joyce Mannherz; Wendy McGrael; Rebecca Miller; Angela Nunnally; Patricia Parkinson; Celeste Petrie; Jo Petty; Adrienne Setorie; Betty Settle; Lois Silvis; Elizabeth Whitacre; Ruthann Zalewski
Cc: Carol Knight; Donna Stofko
Subject: Your support is needed
The reason I am writing to you is to make you aware of what the Board is considering. Please read the attachment. As leaders in your building, I hope that you can attend this meeting on Jan. 21 in support of the Elementary Mathematics Program. I hope you will also consider speaking and/or writing to the Board.
The Board also needs to hear from positive parents. This small group of parents has now started an email campaign via their blog and forum and like the other information they have put out there, their recruitment is based on misinformation. Your efforts are greatly needed to dilute this with positive parents speaking and writing to the Board. As you know, happy people don’t generally write to the Board, but at this time, happy people do need to express themselves also.
Below are some statistics regarding the parents who have spoken to the Board over the last year and a half: There have been a total of 18 different parents speaking against Investigations in the past year and a half, and altogether they have Spoken 70 times. Mr. Barlow has spoken at 16 different meetings. Two of the Parents no longer have children in PWCS schools. (30 different people have spoken in favor not counting the Math Team.) Of the 70 speeches given by these 18 people, 87% of them are from four schools only. But what is even more amazing is that 74% of the speeches are from only six families. This small group has spoken a total of 52 times! This does not include the emails they personally have sent and recruited to be sent spreading information which is not true….yet there are people who seem to believe it at face value and respond.
Please share with the Board the wonderful results that your school has had over the past couple of years in math. Also please share with the Board the numbers of parents you have had at your math parent nights over the past three years and the responses you have had as a result.
Thank you for the leadership you are providing in your buildings and let me know your thoughts as we move forward, please.
Prince William County Schools
Elementary Math Coordinator
Title I Math
It was pretty apparent during the meeting of the School Board on January 21st that a mass email campaign by school employees was done to drive turnout to the meeting, since about the first twenty-five speakers were almost exclusively teachers, principals and other school staff. These public employees descended on the Board meeting in order to thwart the attempts by some parents to seek solutions to deficiencies they observed in the education of their own children. This effort to engage school employees in this political battle, as we can see above, was clearly undertaken with taxpayer resources in absolute defiance of county policy. Not only is it very questionable from an ethical standpoint whether public employees should engage in political battle in opposition to the taxpayers they are supposed to be serving, but it is outrageous that they would use public resources in order to make that happen.
One has to wonder if school staff will so willingly toss aside policy and law in order to engage in a political battle they rightly should be recused from whether a similar lack of ethical behavior characterizes their arguments. If you throw away your moral obligations, is there any doubt you’d be willing to discard the truth as well?
Don’t bother asking School Board Members Grant Lattin and Don Richardson this question. They strongly endorsed this violation of county regulations during the January 21st meeting. When members of the School Board couldn’t care less that individuals in the organization they’re supposed to be overseeing are blatantly disregarding their policies, it’s no wonder we’re seeing plenty of violations. Fish rot from the head down, remember?
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