FORT LAUDERDALE (CN) – A teacher’s union claims the Broward County School Board violated wiretap laws, and the Constitution, by blocking all emails that union members sent to the board before it voted on a contentious labor contract. The union seems particularly incensed that the School Board called the teachers’ messages “spam.”
Negotiations between the Broward Teachers Union and the school board reached an impasse in October 2008 and a special master was appointed. The master held hearings and rendered a decision, according to the complaint in Broward County Court.
The school board was scheduled to vote in March 2009 on whether to accept the special master’s decision. Before that vote, the teachers say, the school board blocked 1,860 emails that teachers had sent to the board.
The union says the school board responded to its complaints about this by calling the teachers’ messages “spam.”
The union says the school board informed it, “It is the School District’s practice to block mass e-mails or volume spam, sent to School Board members, which flood or cripple the School District Web site or e-mail system.”
The teachers were most concerned about their salaries, which they call “a matter of public concern.” They say that after the vote, two board members told the teachers that they had not received any messages from them, and were not aware that their email was being blocked.
The union says the board targeted teachers’ email but allowed real spam, junk and mass emails through.
The teachers claim this de facto censoring of their speech to the school board is unconstitutional, and that the way the board did it violates state and federal wiretap laws.
The union seeks declaratory judgment, costs and damages. It is represented by Mark Richard with Phillips & Richard of Miami.