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Limiting student emails QT57

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Guideline and policy

The school can’t keep students from using email addresses they create for communications related to their student media.

Nothing in Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA) or Children’s Online Privacy Protection Rule (COPPA) overcomes the First Amendment protections students have nor the rights they have under state law.

Key points/action: Talk to the Student Press Law Center for guidance on how to respond to this.

Stance:  Three points to note:

  • The school is not required by CIPA or COPPA to prevent the use of these publication email address that don’t go through the official school Google email service. So long as the school can attest it’s taking appropriate measures to protect students from harm that could result via these emails (training them how to use them and how to respond to inappropriate messages, making a faculty member like the adviser accessible to the students if they have questions or problems, etc.), they will have complied with any legal obligations under those laws.
  • There is no reason the school couldn’t give students on the publication staff a second email address connected to their publication role that operates under the same protocols as the students’ official school email address. This may not be a good option because of the access the school could have to publication-related messages, but it would be a way to satisfy the school’s concerns and get separate emails working more easily.
  • Gmail is not the only option for free email accounts for your publication staff. If your students could work around this by creating new email addresses via another service that can be accessed from the school computers, that might be worth considering.

Reasoning/suggestions: The more challenging issue is whether the school can prevent students from accessing those email accounts on school-owned devices. Again, the SPLC is probably best able to advise you and  your students,

Resource: Mark Goodman, Knight chair in Scholastic Journalism, Kent State University, September 2017.

Related: These points and other decisions about mission statement, forum status and editorial policy should be part of a Foundations Package  that protects journalistically responsible student expression.

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