The superintendent of schools in Bangor blocked a Bangor Daily News journalist on Twitter after the BDN reported that Bangor High School had announced a student’s suicide over the school’s loudspeaker.
Though temporary, Superintendent Betsy Webb’s move to block Eesha Pendharkar on Twitter was a violation of the First Amendment, according to a lawyer who specializes in freedom of information laws. During the time she was blocked, Pendharkar, who covers education for the BDN and wrote two articles late last week on the school’s response to the student’s suicide, could not see the superintendent’s posts on the social media platform.
“A government official cannot selectively block the news media from their Twitter account where they’re using the Twitter account to make official announcements and conduct public business,” said Sigmund Schutz, a Portland-based lawyer.
Webb unblocked Pendharkar on Wednesday after John Hiatt, a Bangor School Committee member, told Webb he was aware she had blocked the reporter.
Webb uses the Twitter account to post some official school announcements, such as the cancellation of school on Tuesday due to snow, and a number of education-related messages. The Twitter page identifies Webb in her official capacity, as “Superintendent of Schools.”