Schools Prohibit Personal E-mail Sites

By Tracy Jan, Globe Staff

Boston Public School officials, who recently banned cellphone use during the school day, are angering students with a new prohibition: no checking or sending e-mail from Yahoo, Hotmail, or other personal Web-based accounts from school.

With little warning, the school system this spring started banning access to personal e-mail accounts in all schools because some students recently used school computers to e-mail threats, hit lists, and pornography to other students and teachers, school officials say. There were four incidents during the past four months, but school officials would not provide further details.

Boston's move follows the lead of an increasing number of school systems around the country, including Worcester, that have been cracking down on the use of Web-based e-mail services at school. Incidents of students using e-mail in school to bully one another have led to many of the bans, partly because school officials worry about being held liable if something happens.

Boston school officials estimate that only a third of the system's students have Internet access at home, and Boston students say the new policy eliminates an essential form of communication for them.

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