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Waltham School Superintendent Responds To E-Mail Ban Concerns

Interim Superintendent acknowledges problems with ban's implementation

Waltham Public’s Schools's interim superintendent acknowledged yesterday that the decision to ban all students from using their personal e-mail accounts at school was not handled well.

“It’s my responsibility. There was jut a glitch in the communication,” said interim superintendent Anne Marie Carr-Reardon.

 After hearing students’ concerns, the School Committee delayed implementation of the ban until it could receive more information about the need for the rule at the next school committee meeting. The ban, which was decided upon two weeks ago, was supposed to take affect when students returned from February vacation. Although students each have an official school e-mail address, students have said it is often unreliable, which forces them to use their personal accounts.

Now, two days after the meeting, Carr-Reardon acknowledged the implementation of the rule was poorly communicated. She said she bad been discussing the issue with MIS Director Patrick Montjoie recently about how to communicate the new rule to staff and students when an e-mail about it was circulated. The e-mail, she said, was sent out without her knowledge.

“I need to take responsibility for this. I’m not going to put an employee under the bus,” Carr-Reardon said. “[The rule was] certainly was not ill intended.  It was just a timing glitch. It’s not his fault,” Carr-Reardon said referring to Montjoie.

Carr-Reardon also addressed students’ concerns. Carr-Reardon, in response to concerns that students would not be able to respond to e-mails form universities they had applied to, said most of the students had already completed their admissions processes. The miscommunications about the new rule, she said, gave the students an incomplete understanding of the policy.

“They had not heard the message completely,” Carr-Reardon said.

The interim superintendent also repeated what other school officials have already said — that the rule was intended to protect the school’s computer network from hacking or viruses. She said the rule would allow the school’s internal computer network to be more easily protected.

“The intent was clearly to maintain the integrity of the system,” she said.

Carr-Reardon also shed additional light on the reasons for the prohibition. The rule was imposed to comply with state and federal regulations, which Carr-Reardon did not elaborate on. Students have said they were told the rule was intended to prevent the distribution of obscene content and prevent students form cyber bullying each other.

Carr-Reardon also responded to students saying the school’s e-mail system was problematic saying the district  had recently upgraded its computer network to solve the issue.

 

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