Steve’s post said it all: “Why block us? There has to be a reason”. So I sent a formal RSA 91:A demand to both the Nashua Board of Education and to the Superintendent of the Nashua School District to find out. After all, why us and no other NH media site? And it seems that I actually got a response from the Superintendent, Dr. Jahmal Mosely. Now, I have no idea why it was important to him to let us know that he spent doing a lot of things other than what I asked but, hey, whatever toasts one’s cookies.
From: “Jahmal Mosley” <firstname.lastname@example.org>
To: “BOE” <BOE@nashua.edu>; “Skip” <Skip@granitegrok.com>
Cc: “Donna Fitzpatrick” <email@example.com>; “Garth McKinney” <McKinneyG@nashua.edu>; “Adam Marcoux” <Nashuatu@nashuatu.org>
Sent: 5/26/2019 10:12:32 AM
Subject: Re: RSA 91:A demand for the Nashua School Board, the Nashua School District, and Superintendent Mosely
Good Morning Mr. Murphy,
I will give him kudos for this – writing a response (note that I’m not labeling “responsive” as of yet) on a Sunday morning over a long holiday weekend. I also note that he copied both Assistant Superintendents Fitzpatrick and McKinney (for former watching over the Secondary schools and the latter the Elementary schools). But before that, let me remind you of our First 91:A demand (yep, you can see where this is going):
Thus, consider this a formal RSA 91:A demand:
- I am looking for copies of all correspondence ( hardcopy and/or electronic) between any and all Nashua School Board members, the Superintendent of the District, staff in the Superintendent’s office, staff within the Nashua School District Administration, or the teacher’s union(s) that are directly or indirectly related to the process of deciding that GraniteGrok should be banned from being accessed from within the Nashua School District IT / network infrastructure normally available to staff and students.
- I am looking for copies of all correspondence ( hardcopy and/or electronic) between any and all Nashua School Board members, the Superintend of the District, staff in the Superintendent’s office, staff within the Nashua School District Administration, or the teacher’s union(s) that are directly or indirectly related to the process of implementing the policy that GraniteGrok will be banned from being accessed from within the Nashua School District IT / network infrastructure normally available to staff and students.
Either the deed was done or a policy to do the deed was created. It has to be one or the other. Dr. Mosely continues:
Allow me to formally to introduce myself, my name is Dr. Jahmal Mosley and I am the superintendent of the Nashua Public Schools. I do not know where you, or members of your organization received your information regarding a false claim that the Nashua Public Schools recently implemented a policy that banned students and staff from accessing the blogger website, GraniteGrok.com.
Gosh, do you think it might have been this (again). As Stee pointed it out, look at the web adddress: WEBFILTER.NASHUA.EDU
Webfilter. That’s a piece of software that is used to filter web traffic in and out of networks and there are a lot of providers that sell various types of software to do that.. If you remember, we did a sting operation on a State of NH employee that was abusing the DoIT (Department of IT) rules about the use of their network. We also pointed out that they were rather lax about how they ran their network – if we hadn’t been tipped off and then started sniffing around, he’d still be doing it (instead of the job he was hired to do within the Dept of Environmental Security).
In this case of the Nashua School District, we were sent the above screenshot by someone on the inside. Yep, we were tipped off. And as Steve said (reformatted, emphasis mine):
One of our many good friends in Nashua alerted us to this, so I asked them to do a little research. As noted in the opening, we are blocked. But not because we are a blog as it suggests (and we are not a forum). FreeKeene, Leaven for the Loaf, and ProgressiveGrok (which is obsessed with commenting on our content, by the way) are all accessible “blogs.”
So right off the bat, the Nashua School District isn’t living up to its own Rule Book, right, Dr. Mosely?
And it’s not a conservative thing. New Hampshire Right to Life, Daily Wire, Breitbart, and Fox News, are all accessible. Even Craigslist. But not GraniteGrok. Which is odd.
We are local. Our Alexa ranking makes us more heavily trafficked than the Nashua Telegraph, not to mention all the blogs and local sites to which Nashua.edu allow access. The only non-television media destinations with better traffic in the state are the Union Leader, SeacoastOnline, Concord Monitor (and only barely) Fosters.com. We’re number five.
There’s a word that describes how the Nashua School District is implementing its Standard Operating Procedures vis-a-vis network access: arbitrary. Well, if one is to believe the other media sites reporting on the Nashua School District, that seem to be S.O.P., right? Dr. Mosely continues with a description of how policies are created.
For clarification, all school policies are first broached and discussed at the policy sub–committee meetings. Then, new policies are approved by the policy sub-committee and are then forwarded to the Board of Education (BOE) for further discussion and potential vote—not all policies are approved when they come before the full board. Some policies are referred back to the policy sub-committee for further edits or modifications. Moreover, a board vote needs to be taken for consideration of the adoption of a new policy.
Frankly, I don’t care a whit – that’s standard stuff for most BoE / School Districts – and DOESN’T ANSWER MY DEMAND FOR RESPONSIVE RECORDS. It’s fluff. A deflection. And with all that he says this:
The policy committee, nor the Nashua board of Education created an internal or external policy specifically banning the GraniteGrok blogger website.
As in that old Microsoft joke about the plane circling the Microsoft Tower, that answer is totally irrelevant – and we shall treat it as such. I point out that an “internal or external policy specifically banning” us wasn’t even needed – such a generic policy already exists if one is to believe the screenshot and the fact that NSD has such filtering software in place. All that is needed is for someone to pull the trigger (get that Nashua JRTOC airgun reference?) and move our URL from a whitelist to a blacklist. A phone call, an email, a quick note on a scrap of paper, even a furtive nod or wink of the eye would suffice – policy optional. I dryly note that Dr. Mosely couldn’t even be bothered to cite the policy as to why the District has such software in place, does he? So I will and it is here: EHAA. AND YOU KNOW WHAT?
- In general, employees of the District are expected to communicate in a professional manner consistent with City, State, and federal laws governing the behavior of school
employees and with federal copyright laws.
- NRT systems are owned by the District. All messages, data, or conversations (information) composed, stored, sent, or received using these systems, including erased
files that are recoverable, are and remain the property of the District.
- The District reserves, and may exercise without prior notice, the right to read, review, audit, intercept, access, or disclose any and all information composed, stored, sent, or
received by employees over NRT systems for any purpose, even if coded or passworded. Notwithstanding the District’s right to retrieve and monitor information as outlined
herein, such information should be treated as personal by other employees and accessed only by the intended recipient. Any exception to this policy must receive prior approval
by the Superintendent.
- NRT systems may not be used to solicit or proselytize for commercial ventures, religious or political causes, outside organizations, or other non-job-related solicitations.
- The District prohibits the sending of discriminatory, harassing, or offensive materials in any form of media. Among those which are considered offensive are any messages or
pictures which contain sexual implications, racial slurs, gender-specific comments, or any other comments that offensively address someone’s age, sexual orientation, religious or
political beliefs, national origin, or disability.
- Generally, NRT systems are to be used for business purposes only, with the following exception: Personal use of NRT systems during working hours is permitted on a very
limited basis as long as it does not interfere with the employee’s job performance or the operation of the District, does not otherwise violate this policy or any other District
policies, and does not result in additional costs to the District.
- The District has the authority to terminate or limit access to any program or NRT system at any time.
Yep, that’s right! The Nashua School District does not have a formal policy of any type that would restrict NSD staff or students from accessing a media site such as GraniteGrok. In fact, not ONE of the seven plainly written parts of their NRT policy would apply to us – or anyone else for that matter.
So, a question – why use a web filter system if you have no formal policy explicitly outlining what would constitute a banned Internet site? Yet according to the screenshot supplied to us by someone on YOUR side of your network, Dr. Mosely, someone did blacklist us. But he says it wasn’t him:
In addition, I have never had a conversation with any employee in my office regarding a policy banning or blocking a blogger website from the school district’s server. Yesterday,
His Office staff can be seen here in the NSD Organization Chart. His answer only covers himself. Well, that answer of “there are no responsive records” means a few other scenarios could apply here:
- IT staff went rogue just flipped a switch for a blacklist entry.
- Someone else in the Superintendent’s Office took it upon themselves to issue such a command / desire
- Some other member of the NSD Staff said to flip the switch.
- Or some member on the Board of Education directly contacted an NSD staff member to have us banned.
The following is what I would consider to be bureaucratic or CYA nonsense and has nothing to do with the essence of our RSA 91:A. Typical – quantity of response over quality of response. And there’s that pesky “policy” word again – one which is nothing but a red herring in this regard.
I along with middle schoolers, laid over 300 flags on Nashua veterans’ graves who served in the military. We have 11,000+ students and our priorities are as follows as we draw to the end of the year:
· Coordinating Kindergarten enrollments district wide
· Planning graduations
· Writing strategic plan
· Planning the construction/renovation of three middle schools
· Acknowledging retiring teachers and years of service
· Hiring new district wide faculty
· Preparing for summer school
· Planning Admin. Retreat
· Welcoming new admin to the district
· Hiring new district wide administrators
· Hiring ELL teachers
· Visiting schools and acknowledging the work of faculty and students
This is a snapshot of a few activities we have been discussing at central office. I can assure you that a blog is not a topic of conversation in our office. Thus, there is no documentation of an initiative or a policy banning a GraniteGrok blogger website.
Tomorrow, I will be at a Memorial Day parade including students from every school in Nashua. I will be there tweeting out pictures. Having said that, I hope that you will join our schools and community tomorrow as we celebrate the sacrifices our veterans made to this country. If you would like to join me at the parade to acknowledge our students or veterans, please let me know and I will bring an extra chair for you to sit beside me. I would be happy to talk with you about the wonderful student activities in the district.
Ah yes, mollification and sideways topic transference . Always good in somebody’s toolkit – just not ours. We don’t do bureaucratise – but we do make sport of it as citizen journalists trying to get to the bottom of a problem.
Dr. Jahmal Mosley
Superintendent of Schools
141 Ledge Street
Nashua, NH 03060
So, what’s the conclusion of this letter?
He didn’t answer our question. Nor could he be bothered to do an investigation of his staff to see if any of the scenarios that I listed (or others I haven’t) turned out to be true.
So, I have another NH RSA:91 A to make given his answers. If he wishes to explain only specific questions, we can do this all day long.