An alleged security breach in the eMail system of the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District in Alaska has escalated tension between the district and two employee unions facing contract talks.

The Kenai Peninsula Borough Board of Education met behind closed doors April 24 to discuss the alleged breach and its possible impact on already sensitive negotiations between the district and its teacher and support worker unions. The unions say they have no knowledge of the allegations.

According to the district, confidential eMails dealing with the negotiations were intercepted.

The district already has placed at least one employee on administrative leave since the leak was discovered but has declined to comment further, saying only that the investigation remains ongoing.

Negotiations between the district, the Kenai Peninsula Education Association, and the Kenai Peninsula Education Support Association continued at press time. District officials refused to say whether negotiations have been compromised by the breach.

The teacher and support staff associations, however, said no one on the union negotiating teams had any knowledge of the intercepted eMails.

“As far as we’re concerned, the investigation doesn’t have anything to do with bargaining. There’s no reason not to continue bargaining,” Cathy Carrow, vice president of the Kenai Peninsula Education Association, told the Peninsula Clarion. “I haven’t seen any of the eMails in question. Neither have any other members.”

Carrow said she questioned whether any intercepted eMail would have revealed sensitive information, anyway.

“I don’t want to sound callous; if someone was doing something they shouldn’t have been doing, I don’t want to condone that,” Carrow said. “But part of what we do when we teach students is tell them that you don’t put anything in an eMail that you wouldn’t put on a postcard.”