School district still considering response to outspoken teacher's e-mail

May 19, 2010 

The Beaufort County School District is weighing potential consequences for an employee who sent an e-mail criticizing the school system to nearly all district employees.

Administrators met this week with Mike Sanz, a science teacher at Bluffton High School, but haven't decided yet what the next step will be, said Jackie Rosswurm, the district's human resources chief.

Rosswurm said she cannot comment on specifics of personnel issues but hopes the matter will be resolved quickly.

Sanz said his e-mail privileges and access to other online accounts were suspended May 6, a day after he sent the 1,700-word e-mail from his district account. The e-mail said three pillars of quality education -- respect, discipline and courage -- have eroded.

Sanz said his district-issued laptop was taken as part of an investigation into whether he violated the district's written policy for acceptable use of technology.

He said Wednesday his laptop had not yet been returned. His access to district e-mail accounts, however, has been reinstated, he said.

Sanz said district officials told him he violated the policy in several ways. Spamming -- sending an annoying or unnecessary message to a large number of people -- is a violation.

He said officials told him all communications using district technology should support the district's educational objectives, be polite and use appropriate language. Sanz said he believed his e-mail, although it included profanity, met those criteria, but district representatives disagreed.

"It was not an attack meant to hurt people," Sanz said. "It was about improving the quality of education in our district."

Sanz said officials also told him he violated a clause of the policy that prohibits using district technology to conduct commercial activity. He used his laptop to outline ideas for an education consulting company he might start. He has considered calling the company "Three Pillars Educational Services."

Sanz said he agrees that work should have been done on his own computer, not the district's laptop.

Sanz said he was offered a contract last week to continue teaching ninth-grade science in Bluffton next school year. He had hoped to receive an administrative position. Before he was moved to Bluffton High School last fall, Sanz was an assistant principal at Hilton Head Island Middle School and is a former headmaster of the Heritage Academy on Hilton Head Island.

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