Many school districts have welcomed and utilized automatic telephone dialing (i.e., “autodialing”) systems and text messages as means of communicating with students, parent and staff. As your school district updates its communications plan and/or student/parent handbook for a new year, it’s important to revisit obligations with respect to these methods of communication under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (the “TCPA”), particularly in light of the FCC rules that went into effect late last year.
In October 2013, the Federal Communications Commission updated its implementing regulations to include the requirement that called parties must give “prior express consent” to receive autodialed or pre-recorded calls to their cell phones. Text messages and short message service (SMS) are “calls” subject to the TCPA and its regulations.
“Emergency” calls made by a school district to a residential land line, such as in the instance of a crisis, are not subject to the prior express consent requirement. However, for any routine, non-urgent messages—like notifications on school closings or information about upcoming events—sent to cell phones, school districts will need to have a system that allows each intended recipient to “opt-in” to receiving the messages.
A report was recently released by Education Week outlining the results of a study on corporal punishment currently being used in schools throughout the U.S. Surprisingly, 21 states still allow and use corporal punishment.
This first week of May marks Teacher Appreciation Week, so I hope you will take time to communicate your gratitude for the teachers who have helped shape your life and who are shaping your children's lives.
The U.S. District Court, Northern District of Oklahoma, has dismissed the federal claims against Caney Valley Schools and denied the motion for a permanent injunction with respect to the school district’s refusal to allow a senior student to wear an eagle feather in her graduation cap Griffith v. Caney Valley Pub. Schs., 15-CV-273-GKF-FHM (N.D. Okla. 01/05/16).