FALMOUTH — School officials are cracking down on employees’ use of the district’s technology systems because two principals sent emails endorsing “school-friendly” candidates in June’s town elections.

The School Board is considering revised policies on use of the district’s computers, email system and Internet access that were presented for a first reading Tuesday evening.

The policies would prohibit employees from using the district’s email system for political or religious purposes. The email system couldn’t be used to solicit membership in nonschool organizations, or raise money or sell items for nonschool purposes.

The policies stop short of prohibiting employees from using the district’s laptop computers – which teachers and administrators are allowed to take home – for any personal use that might involve political, religious or other nonschool purposes.

“That’s where we get into the free-speech issue,” said Chris Murry, chairman of the board’s policy subcommittee. “The law limits how much we can control communication.”

Under the revised policies, “the district will promote the use of (other Internet forums) to promote the culture of the organization.”

The policies will be reviewed and voted on at an upcoming board meeting, Murry said.

The emails in question were sent in May and June by Karen Boffa, then principal of the Plummer-Motz Elementary School; and John Flaherty, then principal of the Lunt Elementary School. They are now co-principals of the new Falmouth Elementary School.

They sent candidate endorsements from their school email accounts to their staff members and Superintendent Barbara Powers. About 140 people received the emails, copies of which were obtained by The Portland Press Herald.

In the emails, the principals asked Falmouth voters on their staffs to vote for certain candidates in the School Board and Town Council races, many of whom won. The principals sent what Powers called “retractions” just before the election.

The revised policies attempt to clarify nine-year-old computer-use rules so employees know what’s expected of them and administrators can act decisively, Murry said. The current policies are “too vague” and have “too many loopholes,” he said.

The revised policies would allow “incidental personal use” of school computers that doesn’t “interfere or conflict with” an employee’s job responsibilities. The district’s information technology staff would have to report violations to the superintendent.

The policies also would require employees to sign a document showing that they have read the technology-use policies, which also prohibit illegal activity such as sending harassing emails and viewing pornography.

As with the current policies, employees who violate them would be subject to discipline, up to and including termination.

Staff Writer Kelley Bouchard can be contacted at 791-6328 or at: [email protected]