Parents upset over controversial email distribution policy in Coventry

(WJAR)

Parents of students in Coventry are upset over a controversial email distribution policy.

They said they are receiving solicitations from non-school related entities via the school district's email, listserve.

The Coventry School Committee voted unanimously in favor of the policy in July, but at a meeting on September 27, after the problems had been brought to their attention, many of the committee members admitted they were confused about what they were voting for and thought the vote was to allow the PTA to send out materials to parents.

The PTA in Coventry is considered a non-profit organization and is not affiliated with the school. Because the committee voted to allow the PTA to distribute certain information, it has to allow all non-profits to do so, as well. That includes political candidates soliciting funds.

Parents received an email flyer for a fundraiser for Republican candidates Scott Copley and George Nardone. They also received a flyer and registration form for a youth religious camp.

“What they’ve done is they’ve just opened up this whole issue to a third party and a third party took advantage of a loophole," said Sen. Lou Raptakis, a Democrat that represents District 33.

Raptakis was forwarded the flyer from one of his constituents. He said he wouldn't campaign that way, and the whole idea of it is just plain wrong.

“Politics has no place in public education," he said.

Parents are also wondering how it got to this point.

“It looks like intent to favor a political candidate," said Brandon Weigert, who has a daughter in kindergarten.

The emails come in as forwarded messages from the school principal. The district’s principals, along with Superintendent Craig Levis, said they’re just following the law by sending the emails along.

But Weigert and others want the committee to get together and figure out how to fix it.

“They didn’t seem like they really knew what they were doing as far as this policy went," said Weigert.

A school committee meeting is scheduled for Thursday to further discuss the policy.

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