California school blocks 9-year-old Black girl’s email as disciplinary action

As the nation grapples with distance learning for young people, the question of managing students' behavior online and through technology becomes an issue for parents and school districts

A nine-year-old Black girl was suspended from school when she allegedly flooded their technical support department with messages. The school executed the suspension by blocking Audrey Taito’s email address. 

However, her mother says that while the school has allowed her child to participate in online learning, they have not told her when her email privileges will be restored. As a result, her daughter has had a difficult time submitting assignments for weeks. 

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The distressing report ran on the Huffington Post where writer Rebecca Klein interviewed Taito and her mother, Rashida Dunn-Nasr

The young girl told Klein, “I don’t want to go back to school because they embarrass me a lot.” 

The report states that Taito “bombarded” the school’s technical support department with messages.

According to Taito’s, she may have been suspended because she sent a lot of messages to a friend in a private chat. The rising fourth-grader admits that she did not fully understand how to use the technology.

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Schoolgirls use computers during a demonstration. (Photo by Adam Berry/Getty Images)

The Sacramento City Unified School District blocked Audrey’s email account for approximately two hours. According to spokesperson Tara Gallegos, they did so after “inappropriate emails” were sent to their “district IT staff from the account.”

“When I could not reach you to discuss this concern, ” the school principal wrote to the student’s mother in an email, “I ask[ed] that her email account be temporarily suspended until I had the opportunity to let you know what happened and how this behavior was draining our limited resources from students who needed the technical support the services are designed to give.”

The district said suspending email accounts is standard practice when an account is generating suspicious activity. They noted that they had also briefly suspended the account of a staff member. 

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Still, the suspension had a lasting effect on Taito. Already home from school amid the coronavirus pandemic, her mother said the incident further upset her. 

As schools grapple with distance learning in the coming months, the question of managing discipline has yet to be answered. 

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