Religion is a prohibited topic in eMail messages sent by school staff members, according to a new policy of the Aberdeen, S.D., school board.
District eMail accounts are school property, said Superintendent Brad Meeks, and employees should not use them to send religious messages.
Teachers and other employees may use their accounts for personal messages, just as they use the telephone to call home, he said. But they cannot promote religion online.
The board voted 4-3 to approve the policy, which was approved by district lawyers, according to the Associated Press.
Board member Paige Anderson, who voted against the new rule, said the constitutional separation of church and state should prohibit teachers from promoting religion in class, but should not curtail freedom of speech between friends.
“It does not mean that people can’t express their religious views,” Anderson said of the First Amendment. “Can we as a board restrict religion?”
Teachers should be allowed to eMail one another about church camp, for example, she said.
The new rule also bans staffers from discussing politics and sex in eMail messages, but the board seemed more unanimous in its support for those restrictions.
Anderson introduced an amendment to eliminate religion from being one of the policy’s taboos. But her amendment failed by the same one-vote margin that ultimately passed the eMail restrictions.