Published Online: May 21, 1997

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E-mail unplugged

Alaska teacher Mike Connors has been disconnected from his school's e-mail system for being a little too plugged into politics.

It started two weeks ago when Mr. Connors, who teaches at Hanshew Middle School in Anchorage, used the school's e-mail during lunch to write state Sen. Lyda Green, a Republican. In his message, he urged Ms. Green to "stop acting like a spoiled child" over a recent political setback.

But the special education teacher discovered that e-mail can bite back. A savvy aide to Ms. Green sent a copy of his letter to the Anchorage school district, tipping administrators to a potential breach of district cyberspace rules.

As it turned out, Anchorage teachers are banned from using the district's electronic-mail system for political activism or to send harassing letters. School administrators ruled that Mr. Connors had done both.

Mr. Connors did not know what his punishment would be until he logged onto his e-mail May 12 and received the message: "User name unknown." He will get e-mail privileges back next fall.

Mr. Connors, a Chicago native, apologized to school officials, but he is unrepentant about the letter's content.

Batting zero

It's the bottom of the ninth inning and Tennessee Gov. Don Sundquist is batting .000 at getting nominees appointed to the state school board.

The Republican has made three nominations to the nine-member panel this year. One was defeated and two more await approval from the legislature, which adjourns in a few weeks.

After taking a year to name replacements for three board members whose terms ended last spring, Mr. Sundquist watched a House panel reject his nomination of Christian activist Marilyn Loeffel this month.

Ms. Loeffel had been controversial from the start. She once told a radio talk show that "everyone knows public schools are just a joke." Although she later apologized and her nomination made it through the Senate, it was killed when it reached a Democrat-controlled House education subcommittee. A spokesman for Mr. Sundquist said there is no plan to pick a new nominee. That does not create a vacancy, however, because current board members continue to serve until replacements are appointed.

Mr. Sundquist's two other board picks, Melvin Wright, a dentist, and Hubert McCullough, a businessman, appear more certain to be confirmed, observers say.

--ROBERT C. JOHNSTON

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