School Superintendent Temporarily Deactivated Union President’s E-Mail

By Sara Toth,

6:42 PM EST, January 17, 2012

The president of the Howard County Education Association was briefly denied access to the school system’s email system last weekend after his account was temporarily disabled by Superintendent Sydney Cousin.

Paul Lemle said he first noticed that the program wasn’t working Friday, Jan. 13, when a colleague said they were about to email Lemle, but could not find his name or email on the school system’s listserv.

“Not only could they not find my email address, but if they knew it by heart, it would be bounced back to them,” Lemle said. “It was frustrating … our position is for no one, for any reason, to be deactivated from CLC (Collaborative Learning Community), criminal activity aside. But that was not in question.”

Lemle said his email and CLC were working again by 10 a.m. Tuesday, Jan. 17.

Cousin said he met with Lemle Tuesday to apologize for disabling Lemle’s account. The two came to a mutual understanding, Cousin said.

“There was no real issue except that we were told he was using the CLC in an unauthorized manner, which proved not to be true,” Cousin said.

Cousin declined to name the source of the false report.

The disabling of Lemle’s account came after dozens of union members turned out Thursday, Jan. 12 to voice opposition to proposed changes to the middle school schedule, including the elimination of traditional reading classes. Lemle said he felt the group of teachers was effective in condemning the proposal from central office staff, but he didn’t think the outcry and the disabling of his account were connected.

“I think that bothered some people, but I don’t subscribe to the conspiracy theory that the board, or system operates in the dark,” he said. “I don’t characterize the school system that way.”

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