Interim Superintendent of Manchester Public Schools Richard Kisiel told Patch this week that a like Facebook or Twitter currently being considered by the Board of Education was drafted by the school board's attorney based on policies written and adopted by other school districts in Connecticut.
Kisiel said that the policy was written by an attorney at Shipman & Goodwin, the Hartford-based firm the Board of Education keeps on retainer for legal matters, and was essentially the same policy that the firm has drafted for other school districts in the past. Kisiel said those school districts have already adopted the policy, although he declined to name the attorney who wrote it or the towns where it has been adopted.
Kisiel said he did "tinker" with the policy slightly before presenting it to the Board of Education last month.
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"A little bit to suit Manchester," he told Patch. "But conceptually it's basically the same policy."
The proposed policy has , which sent a letter to Board of Education Chairman Chris Pattacini last week stating that the policy as written was "overly broad and impermissibly vague." The ACLU of Connecticut said the policy violated school district employees' First Amendment rights and that, if passed, it would encourage employees to challenge the policy in court.
“After learning from press reports about the proposed policy for social media use by Manchester school employees, we learned that some other school boards had already adopted policies on this topic. It's clear to us that the proposed Manchester policy threatens protected free speech but we can't determine that about other policies until we review each one," Andrew Schneider, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Connecticut, said in an email. “Boards of Education need to recognize that freedom of speech doesn't depend on the technology used to exercise it. If any school employees believe their rights have been violated under a policy that has already been adopted, we urge them to let us know about it.”
The policy was slated to be voted on by the Manchester Board of Education at last Monday's meeting, but it was pulled from the agenda after the ACLU's letter was received.
Kisiel told the school board Monday night that the attorney that drafted the policy was reviewing it based on the ACLU's letter to determine if there were any areas of it that could be challenged in court.
"I think at this point the law firm has some business to investigate on its own and they'll report back to us," he said.
Pattcini declined to discuss the proposed policy after Monday's meeting.
"To me this is part of the public discourse process," Pattcini said. "We'll let this play out and go from there."