Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of April 5, 1999
E-mail porn messages lead to teachers' resignations
By ANH HOANG
WCR Staff Writer
An investigation into the improper use of the Calgary Catholic School District's internal e-mail system has resulted in the voluntary resignation of four teachers and a one-month suspension of another.
Through a routine check from the district's technology staff, it was found that the teachers had been sending each other pornographic pictures via the school's internal e-mail system.
The mailings took place from September to December 1998. The discovery was reported in December and the board launched an investigation shortly after.
The district released a statement March 30, saying the inappropriate e-mailed material included "hard-core pictures and videos of women in degrading activities and situations."
The board assured the public no child pornography was involved in the e-mails and students were not exposed to any of the material.
"What is at issue is a breach of contract, a breach of policy put into place to protect our students," said Linda Wellman, board chairperson. "There has been a severe breach of the oath they take as teachers to uphold the ethics they have as teachers."
The district has a strict code of conduct for those who use its Internet system. Teachers sign a waiver agreeing to use it in a responsible, efficient, ethical and legal manner.
Edmonton Catholic Schools has a similar policy for staff using its system. It notes that the system is not for private or business use, political purposes or any illegal use.
The code in both school districts also implies that the use of the system is not private and the district has a right to monitor it.
Three of the teachers were recommended for termination by district administration. The two remaining teachers were recommended for suspension.
Because they submitted voluntary resignations, the four teachers and the board agreed to maintain the confidentiality of the teachers' names.
The recommendations to either suspend or terminate the teachers were based on the degree of participation of each teacher.
Wellman said some of the teachers were recipients of the e-mail and "we have no control of what we receive . . . and we don't know what it is until we open it.
"These teachers deleted it, they didn't reply to it, nor did they report it."
She added that it "was not a case of accidentally falling onto these sites."
Wellman said there is little the district can do to prevent similar future incidents.
"(Administrators) are in the process of looking at what is available to us, but there really is no fail-safe thing out there, no way for the board to prevent access to these inappropriate websites."