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Saugus Union School District Criticized Over Social Media Account Blockings
Questions Raised about Transparency and Communication Practices of District Officials
A recent public records request from Saugus Union School District has revealed that Superintendent Colleen Hawkins claimed that the district had only blocked one account from its social media accounts. However, it has since been discovered that at least eight accounts were blocked by the district's former public information officer, Lee Morrell. This raises concerns about the district's transparency and communication practices.
During the records request, Hawkins questioned Morrell about who had been blocked and why. Morrell claimed that he had only blocked seven people and provided reasons for doing so. However, it appears that more accounts were blocked, and Morrell may have selectively disclosed information to Hawkins.
Lisa Ely's comment indicates that there may be more people who were blocked from Saugus Union School District's social media accounts, besides the seven accounts revealed in the records request. This raises concerns about the district's transparency and communication practices, as it suggests that officials may not have provided accurate information about the number of blocked accounts.
To accurately determine the full scope of the situation, it may be necessary to subpoena Twitter records. Such records could reveal whether additional accounts were blocked by the district. If more accounts were indeed blocked, this would further highlight the importance of transparency and accountability in the district's communication practices.
The probe into the blockings was prompted by an email from Nathan Imhoff. Imhoff pointed out that according to Amy Miller, ACLU of Nebraska Legal Director, "Blocking someone from viewing public information on a government operated social media page is a clear violation of the First Amendment. We would not tolerate a government agency kicking a concerned constituent out of a public hearing just because they disagree with an elected official. The same principles apply in the digital age. When an elected official or government agency is using social media to communicate with the public, the government cannot pick and choose who gets to see that information. If a government official wants to maintain a private account, they certainly have the right to do so. But that private account cannot be used to conduct official government business."
Imhoff also revealed that he had clashed with Morrell over this issue several times and shared some of the belligerent comments Morrell was making on his personal Twitter account, including a sexist tweet at Tomi Lahren, which violated Twitter's hateful content policy. Imhoff suggested that Morrell's actions were inappropriate for someone in his position, especially since he was being paid by taxpayers.
Lisa Ely's quote highlights the frustration of some parents with the district's communication practices. She claimed that Hawkins only listens to those who share her beliefs, suggesting that there may be a lack of transparency and accountability within the district. In a comment on the Signal's website, Morrell bragged that he did not get fired and only received a "slap on the wrist," indicating that the district's response to the situation may have been inadequate. Morrell worked for Saugus Union for another year after this incident came to light.
Given the seriousness of violating citizens' civil rights, it is important for public officials to be held accountable for their actions. Transparency and accountability are crucial in ensuring that public officials uphold the law and protect citizens' rights. This situation also highlights the importance of communication practices in educational institutions, particularly when it comes to matters that affect the education of students.