District Judge Douglas Smith put off his decision Tuesday on whether to dismiss a lawsuit filed against the Clark County School District by the Nevada Policy Research Institute regarding the release of government-generated email addresses belonging to some 17,000 teachers.
Smith told attorneys he needed additional time to review previous cases cited by the plaintiffs. The judge was vague about when he would render a ruling, saying it could be later today or next week.
Smith dismissed the Public Education Foundation, which initially was a co-defendant, from the case.
Attorney Joseph Becker argued that the research think tank has a right to the email addresses under the Nevada Public Information Act. He later explained the list would allow the organization to communicate more efficiently with teachers.
School District attorney Dan Polsenberg contended the email addresses could be sold or provided to companies that would inundate teachers with spam. Smith appeared to side with the school district’s argument, saying spam would interfere with teachers’ ability to communicate with students and parents.
“It’s not about liking it or disliking it, it’s how is it affecting our teachers and our students in the process and you don’t care,” Smith said in response to Becker’s acknowledgement that nobody likes spam.
Becker argued the school district didn’t want to turn over the email directory because of the work it would entail. But Polsenberg said that NPRI could look up the addresses individually but it isn’t willing to invest the time.
He reiterated his concern that loads of spam would start to show up in the teachers’ inboxes, burying important communications from their students and parents.
“If you keep inundating teachers with spam, they’re not even going to want to go to their email accounts,” Polsenberg said. “This is going to interfere with their job as teachers.”
A part of the Research Institution’s purpose is to ensure transparency in government. It hosts the website transparentnevada.com, which lists the salaries of public employees. It also publishes the Nevada Journal, an online publication for “in-depth reporting in the public interest.”
“This isn’t even the kind of information that’s covered under the public records act,” Polsenberg argued. “Here they want email addresses, they don’t want information. They want email addresses so they can do blasts.
It’s obvious what they want to do here.”
Victor Joecks, communications director for the Research Institute, said about 9,000 email addresses are available to the public already, and there have been no complaints by teachers about spam. He said the government-regulated email system should have top-of-the-line spam-blocking software.