Big Brother: CCSD intercepts emails to teachers, prevents educators from learning of their rights

LAS VEGAS — The Nevada Policy Research Institute’s annual effort to alert teachers of their right to opt out of union membership from July 1 to July 15 has uncovered something unsettling: The Clark County School District is intercepting and blocking emails sent to teachers, thereby preventing them from learning of their rights.

On June 2, NPRI emailed over 12,000 CCSD teachers regarding their right to leave the union, yet only a nominal amount of emails were opened. In previous years, over 2,000 individuals have opened similar emails. Also, when NPRI asked a sampling of teachers in the district if they had received NPRI’s communications, they had not even though NPRI had sent them an email message.

Based on NPRI’s internal testing and consultation with an external internet provider, evidence shows that the Clark County School District — which has a history of trying to hinder email communication between NPRI and teachers — has blocked NPRI from communicating with its teachers via the public, taxpayer-funded email addresses.

In response to the discovery, NPRI President Andy Matthews issued the following statement

It is outrageous that a government agency would censor communications between teachers and a private group. It also raises First Amendment concerns, because the Clark County Education Association, another private organization, is able to email teachers.

It’s wrong for a government agency to use taxpayer dollars to pick and choose who communicates with government employees.

Communication with a government employee shouldn’t be reserved exclusively for those approved by a government agency.

Over the past two years, over 1,200 teachers in Clark County have left the CCEA as a result of NPRI’s opt-out campaign, and now CCSD is aggressively preventing teachers from being able to make their own decisions about union membership. NPRI’s teacher union opt-out campaign is about providing Nevada educators with the information they need and deserve to make an informed decision.

The fact that CCSD would intentionally intercept emails intended for its employees should be maddening for its teachers and deeply concerning for the public that pays the district’s bills.

CCSD Chief of Staff Kirsten Searer explained in an email statement that, “We have taken action to protect our employees from spammers in order to ensure that our district email system remains an effective communication system for our teachers.” Searer did not say what criterion is used to determine which email addresses qualify as spam; why NPRI’s single email to a portion of teachers was blocked; or why the teacher union is allowed to email tens of thousands of CCSD teachers without being considered spam.

Shortly after CCSD blocked NPRI’s email communications, NPRI unveiled numerous billboards in Southwest Las Vegas to make teachers aware of their right to leave the CCEA from July 1 to July 15.

“Hard as CCSD may try to prevent teachers from learning of their rights, it cannot prevent educators from seeing the message on billboards,” Matthews said. “We at NPRI believe our teachers are smart enough to choose for themselves whether they wish to remain in the CCEA, and we are doing everything within our power to provide teachers with the information necessary to make this important decision.”

Members of the CCEA can only opt-out of membership by notifying the union, in writing, from July 1 to July 15. Members can access pre-written opt-out letters here. All other Nevada teachers can find opt-out letters here.

The Nevada Policy Research Institute is currently suing CCSD over its refusal to release the taxpayer-funded email addresses of its teachers, which are considered public record.


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