Students violate Dean’s Office policy through email chain

Grace Shin, co-news editor

GBS staff and students received a chain of emails that contained links violating school policy on Nov. 28, resulting in a disruption in the school day, Dean Ronald Bean says.

According to Principal Lauren Fagel, three students sent out a survey for a class to all staff and students through a Google group. The students’ teacher then sent the staff that received the survey an apology email. Later on that day, Fagel says students approached her and other administrators to report that there were inappropriate sites being linked to the emails sent out to the student body. The situation became more complicated when there was an email sent under Bean’s name but was not actually sent by him.

“Now kids think that we’re telling them to stop [sending emails] so then if I send out an email saying ‘Everybody stop,’ they might not even know if it’s real or not,” Fagel said. “If kids heard ‘That wasn’t Mr. Bean, I just asked Mr. Bean. He didn’t send anything out,’ then they could be like ‘That’s not Mrs. Fagel sending [an email] out.’”

After speaking with the technology department, the administrators decided to shut off all Google groups and decided that Fagel would make a PA announcement to the school. But before the Google groups could completely shut off, there was an email sent out to all students and staff from President-elect Donald Trump’s political campaign site that stated the recipient of the email signed up.

“Teachers started getting really upset because they hadn’t seen all the ones earlier in the day, so they were like ‘What is going on? Why is my email address in there?’” Fagel said. “I started getting emails back [from teachers…], we were getting some phone calls, and we were even getting a few people stopping down by Mr. Bean’s office.”

After the PA announcement was made, Fagel created an email with administrators that was to be sent out to all students, staff, and teachers stating the emails that were sent out were unauthorized by the school. R.J. Gravel, the district Director of Technology Services, says the school is now discussing with the Executive Cabinet, which involves the principals of GBS and GBN, senior directors, the superintendent and others, to discuss how to move forward.

“We’re deciding […] who will be allowed to use [the Google groups], access them and things of that nature,” Gravel said.

The school is also working with the Glenview Police Department to find the students that sent the emails. Bean says the Reciprocal Reporting Agreement between the school and Police Department allows them to work together by sharing information that the other might not have.

“Anytime we have a breech or […] gaining access through technology to our system, we work with the Glenview Police because they are able to access information that sometimes, as a school, we’re not able to access,” Bean said. “They can reach out to actual websites and businesses that were [linked in the emails] and get information [for us].”

Bean says the email chain is a violation of the acceptable use policy which states that technology should be used for “communication among students, faculty, staff, and the local and global communities for academic or administrative purposes,” according to the GBS Handbook. He added that the consequences of the students that are responsible for sending out the emails will be decided after they are found but the specifics cannot be determined until then.

“The consequences could range from Saturday detention up to the student potentially losing access to the network for a period of time, all the way up to—in the most extreme cases […]—a student could be suspended and potentially recommended for expulsion,” Bean said.

During a meeting with the Executive Cabinet on Dec. 7, it was decided that administrators will continue to converse with the school leadership teams about the role of the Google groups. Until then, the school will be using SchoolMessenger to communicate with students. Gravel acknowledges that technology is very powerful, efficient and allows us to do great things, but also says it is important that people know when they are using technology in the right or wrong way.

“Sometimes people will use technology in a way that is not intended and can sometimes be harmful to others,” Gravel said. “[Because our society is a connected environment,] there’s always tracking happening. Making assumptions that you can do certain things and not ultimately be found out is maybe a fallacy in that.”