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Thread: Response to ConcernedSchoolParentsOfWayland.org

  1. #31
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    Dave, like Kim, I don't understand your point about the registration of the Wayland School Committee Web site. It seems to have to do with a bunch of hypotheticals about what might happen if I as a rogue Webmaster took the site in a direction other than what the Committee wanted. Why don't we cross that bridge when (well, if) we come to it.

    Instead, can you tell me what's been improper about the registration and use of the site to date?

  2. #32
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kim Reichelt View Post
    Dave, as someone who runs several websites, I've been very confused about the debate over the School Committee's registration change, and after reading the thread you linked to, I'm a little confused where you find Jeff was inconsistent.

    I, for example, run the Claypit Hill PTO site. When I first took that on, I believe I registered the site in the name of the Claypit PTO president, figuring she was ultimately responsible for the site, and that she may well hold that position longer than I held the webmaster position, so it would be easier to have it in her name.

    Later, I changed it to me because (1) I was paying for the site (I haven't bothered to submit expenses yet, though I suppose I should), (2) I realized she wouldn't be involved enough to know what to do with any notices she might receive, and (3) I realized that I probably will be webmaster longer than she is president (just guessing, Jen!). Also, I knew from the debate over the schoolcommittee site that is pretty easy to change the registration information.

    At no time did anything change about the running of the site. I maintain the site, but I do so under the control and direction of the Claypit PTO board.

    Sadly, I think the biggest outcome of all of this (and by "all this" in particular I mean the soswayland.com controversy) is that many people will have learned the wrong lesson and will register their domains privately in the future, reducing accountability and transparency.

    [full disclosure: waylandenews.com is privately registered, a step I took when I initially registered the site, fearing that using my name and email address would result in unnecessary spam. I clearly never intended, however, to hide my involvement in the site :-) ]
    The situation with waylandschoolcommittee.org is signficantly different than what you describe above because the Wayland School Committee is a body of elected officials. Here was my comment on the situation last July:

    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Bernstein View Post
    Private citizens are entitled to operate a web site and employ it to advocate their positions. The fact that these private citizens happen to be members of the School Board does not diminish this right.

    However, is it appropriate for a page in the public school web site to hyperlink to one and only one privately-operated web site? To a web site operated by one group of private citizens advocating their particular positions?

    Who approved the addition of this one hyperlink to the public school web page? Can other private citizens create web sites advocating alternative positions and have hyperlinks inserted into the the public school web page so readers can navigate to their sites too?

    Were School Board Members to use their public positions to directly or indirectly limit connectivity from public school web pages to privately-operated web sites of their choosing, then in my opinion an ethical boundary would be breached.

    The current situation may be entirely innocent, but it reeks of poor judgment and invites scrutiny.
    My position was (and is) that the School Committee web site should be hosted on the town's web servers under the town's control. Jeff rejected this on the grounds that it would be less efficient for him personally to update the site. The use of appropriate web tools would eliminate the tradeoff between hygiene and efficiency, but Jeff's position was unchanged.

    Later in the thread, it was Jeff who raised the hypothetical situation of an irresolvable disagreement between the other members of School Committee and himself over the content of waylandschoolcommittee.org . He claimed that the site's registration in the name of the Wayland School Committee would enable them to prevail, and taunted his adversaries for not recognizing this -- including an accusation that this his opponents may have concealed this information to avoid weakening their argument:

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Dieffenbach View Post
    Well, both the "Registrant Organization" and the "Admin Organization" are listed as the Wayland School Committee. I find it interesting that none of the people taking exception to the ownership and control of the WSC web site chose to indicate that simple fact.

    Maybe, like me, they never thought to look. Maybe they looked and saw it, but didn't want to undermine their already tenuous arguments.
    However, the site's whois record listed Jeff Dieffenbach as Administrator, listing his address, phone number, and email address. As Administrator, he (alone) could change any of the other components of the record at his whim, including the Registrant Organization and Admin Orgainization.

    ~4 hours after my my post citing the details of the whois record, Jeff posted that he would change the registration, which he has since done. This improves the School Committee's control over the site, though a disagreement between Jeff and the rest of the School Board could still require lengthy and expensive legal action to resolve. But the School Committee web site remains privately-managed, which while certainly not illegal is inappropriate in my view.

    As to Jeff's "inconsistencies", there are two:

    1. he claimed that the site was registered to the Wayland School Committee, when in fact it was registered to him personally

    2. having changed the site's registration, he now claims this change was not motivated by the above discussion - despite publicly agreeing to make the change 4 hours after my post citing the details of the site's record.

    Moving the School Committee web site onto servers controlled by the Town would have quickly eliminated all of these issues, with no signficiant negative consequences. Jeff's refusal to do this is a sign of poor judgement. The "inconsistencies" cited above speak for themselves. While some here may consider the web page situation unimportant, the character traits exposed by the ensuing discussion are highly relevant.

  3. #33
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    Dave, I'll ask again, where did I "taunt" anyone regarding the registration and use of the Wayland School Committee Web site?

    You are correct, there are a multitude of reasons why the site is hosted as it is, and why the registration is as it is.

    Site hosting
    1. By having the site hosted outside the Wayland Public Schools domain, it is easier for the Committee to update.

    2. By having the site hosted this way, there is no chance that it runs afoul of campaign finance laws, which hold that public funds may not be expended on unsolicited communications regarding ballot questions. First, no public funds are expended. Second, the Committee sends no unsolicited communications. Third, the Committee's solicited communications rarely discuss ballot questions.

    (1) and (2) above allow the Committee to do what it is supposed to do: provide information about and advocate for the Wayland Public Schools.

    Site registration
    If I'm not mistaken, the site's registration has always included "Wayland School Committee" as the organization, and it has always included my name as administrator and technical contact. The only thing that the Committee changed was the contact information.

    1. Changing the site's registration info makes it clearer who control's the site's content.

    2. Changing the registration info responded to a few residents who indicated that the prior information was misleading.

    3. Registration information for a domain whose intent is clear is pretty mundane stuff, especially when the information isn't hidden. *Someone* has to be the administrator/technical contact, and in theory, that person could "hijack" the site at any time--this is no less true if that person is a School Department employee (as you propose) rather than a School Committee member.

    Dave, you still haven't given a reason *why* there's a problem with any of the above.

  4. #34
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Dieffenbach View Post
    Dave, I'll ask again, where did I "taunt" anyone regarding the registration and use of the Wayland School Committee Web site?
    And I willl respond, for the third time:

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Dieffenbach View Post
    Maybe, like me, they never thought to look. Maybe they looked and saw it, but didn't want to undermine their already tenuous arguments. So far, unable to come up with a logical, legal, or ethical complaint, the best they've been able to do is repeat the weak "I don't like like it, it's bad, but I can't articulate a convincing reason why" line of attack.
    Do you remember now?


    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Dieffenbach View Post
    If I'm not mistaken, the site's registration has always included "Wayland School Committee" as the organization, and it has always included my name as administrator and technical contact. The only thing that the Committee changed was the contact information.
    As of last July, the registration placed you in complete control of the site. Changing the address, phone number, and email address to those of the School Committee reduces this, but as I've said, the School Committee could be in for a legal battle to regain control of the site if a dispute were to arise.


    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Dieffenbach View Post
    3. Registration information for a domain whose intent is clear is pretty mundane stuff, especially when the information isn't hidden. *Someone* has to be the administrator/technical contact, and in theory, that person could "hijack" the site at any time--this is no less true if that person is a School Department employee (as you propose) rather than a School Committee member.
    If the site were hosted on the Town's server(s), as I have suggested from the outset, there could be no threat of "hijacking" unless the hijacker were seriously skilled and the Town's IT person (or ISP) were seriously unskilled. Even then, control could be quickly restored without legal action.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Dieffenbach View Post
    Dave, you still haven't given a reason *why* there's a problem with any of the above.
    Certainly I have, Jeff. My first post on the topic last July, which I have already reposted on this thread, identified the issues with having the School Committee web site being managed by you rather than being managed the Town. I won't repost it a third time; here's the URL:

    http://www.waylandenews.com/forum/sh...p=754#poststop

    Our subsequent discussion exposed an additional "reason": you control the web site, not the School Committtee. In a dispute, the School Committee might be required to take legal action to regain control of its site. You acknowledged this by publicly agreeing to change the registration, an action you're now trying to ascribe to other motivations. After the changes you've made to the registration, the School Committee would be more likely to prevail, but the possibility of conflict has not been eliminated.

    Bottom line: a reasonable person would have placed the School Committee web site under Town management, and put in place the necessary tools and access required to maintain his or her ability to update the site's content in a timely and efficient fashion. You are clearly quite cognizant of the regulations governing such content, as are Town officials responsible for web site content; thus compliance would not be an issue.

    Instead, you have spun up a collection of excuses and explanations so complex that you yourself can't keep them straight.
    Last edited by Dave Bernstein; 04-05-2009 at 04:59 PM. Reason: correct spelling error

  5. #35
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    Dave, are you seriously calling this a taunt?

    Jeff Dieffenbach wrote:
    Maybe, like me, they never thought to look. Maybe they looked and saw it, but didn't want to undermine their already tenuous arguments. So far, unable to come up with a logical, legal, or ethical complaint, the best they've been able to do is repeat the weak "I don't like like it, it's bad, but I can't articulate a convincing reason why" line of attack.


    And, you continue to say THAT you don't approve of the Wayland School Committee Web site being registered and used as it is, but you still aren't saying WHY you don't approve. Is there a conflict of interest? Would a visitor to the site be confused into thinking that the site's content is NOT that of the School Committee? Are any laws being broken, or even coming close?

  6. #36
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Dieffenbach View Post
    Dave, are you seriously calling this a taunt?
    Yes, particularly "Maybe they looked and saw it, but didn't want to undermine their already tenuous arguments."

    Which is ironic, because looking at the Whois record revealed that you had full control of the site, in direct contradiction to what you'd been saying.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Dieffenbach View Post
    And, you continue to say THAT you don't approve of the Wayland School Committee Web site being registered and used as it is, but you still aren't saying WHY you don't approve. Is there a conflict of interest? Would a visitor to the site be confused into thinking that the site's content is NOT that of the School Committee? Are any laws being broken, or even coming close?
    My original post back in July explains exactly why I don't approve. Here it is for the 4th time:

    http://www.waylandenews.com/forum/sh...p=754#poststop

  7. #37
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    Default Cost Efficiency

    For those interested in data comparing Wayland to other schools in terms of efficiency, the Sept 2008 Boston Magazine has an article that ranks Wayland as 12th out of about 150. For some reason I am having trouble attaching it. Lincoln Sudbury is ranked 10th and spends about $1,300 more per student. Weston is ranked 5th and spends about $3,000 more per student. Concord Carlisle is ranked 1st and spends about $3,000 more per student. Wellesley is ranked 9th and spends about $500 less. Acton Boxboro is 22nd and spends about $2,000 less. Lots of data, I will try to attach it in the morning.

    Kim- thanks for providing the link. I got the attachment function to work. Take care to read the "about our rankings" section as this was a controversial article

    /Gary
    Attached Images Attached Images
    Last edited by GLidington; 04-06-2009 at 03:21 PM.

  8. #38
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    Default Link to Boston Magazine

    Here's a link to that Boston Magazine article.

  9. #39
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    Originally Posted by Jeff Dieffenbach
    Dave, are you seriously calling this a taunt?

    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Bernstein View Post
    Yes, particularly "Maybe they looked and saw it, but didn't want to undermine their already tenuous arguments."
    I called their (and your) arguments tenuous. That's an opinion, hardly a taunt. It's certainly no different from your accusations of "direct contradiction" and "reeks of poor judgment."

    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Bernstein View Post
    Which is ironic, because looking at the Whois record revealed that you had full control of the site, in direct contradiction to what you'd been saying.
    Yes, I've always had TECHNICAL CONTROL, but that's utter hair-splitting. I've NEVER dictated content or posted anything that the Committee didn't want posted. The Committee has ALWAYS had EDITORIAL CONTROL.

    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Bernstein View Post
    My original post back in July explains exactly why I don't approve. Here it is for the 4th time:

    "Private citizens are entitled to operate a web site and employ it to advocate their positions. The fact that these private citizens happen to be members of the School Board does not diminish this right.

    However, is it appropriate for a page in the public school web site to hyperlink to one and only one privately-operated web site? To a web site operated by one group of private citizens advocating their particular positions?

    Who approved the addition of this one hyperlink to the public school web page? Can other private citizens create web sites advocating alternative positions and have hyperlinks inserted into the the public school web page so readers can navigate to their sites too?

    Were School Board Members to use their public positions to directly or indirectly limit connectivity from public school web pages to privately-operated web sites of their choosing, then in my opinion an ethical boundary would be breached."
    The current situation may be entirely innocent, but it reeks of poor judgment and invites scrutiny.
    Dave, please read your own writing. You ask a number of questions. But you only suggest one possible issue (controlling links from the Wayland Public Schools site to "privately operated web sites of their choosing"). The Office of Campaign and Political Finance (OCPF) found no problem with the WPS site linking to specific external sites. Moreover, the OCPF said that the WPS site had no obligation to link to any external site should such an external site make a request for a link.

    In the end, Dave, you nailed it: the current situation is "entirely innocent."

  10. #40
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Dieffenbach View Post
    I called their (and your) arguments tenuous. That's an opinion, hardly a taunt. It's certainly no different from your accusations of "direct contradiction" and "reeks of poor judgment."
    You continue to miss the point. You accused me of concealing exculpatory evidence in order to protect a weak argument. The evidence in question -- the Whois record -- was far from exculpatory: it showed you to be in full administrative control of the site.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Dieffenbach View Post
    Yes, I've always had TECHNICAL CONTROL, but that's utter hair-splitting. I've NEVER dictated content or posted anything that the Committee didn't want posted. The Committee has ALWAYS had EDITORIAL CONTROL.
    You were in full administrative control of the site. You may have allowed the School Committee to exert editorial control, but that was your decision as Administrator -- a decision you could revoke at your whim. It was for this reason that you agreed to change the registration.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Dieffenbach View Post
    You ask a number of questions. But you only suggest one possible issue (controlling links from the Wayland Public Schools site to "privately operated web sites of their choosing").
    Every one of those questions requires resolution, and each resolution constitutes an issue. All of these issues would be immediately resolved by placing the site under Town management.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Dieffenbach View Post
    In the end, Dave, you nailed it: the current situation is "entirely innocent."
    I have not characterized your intentions or actions in this matter as illegal or evil. I have characterized them as defensive, stubborn, and, yes, "reeking of bad judgement".

  11. #41
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Bernstein View Post
    You continue to miss the point. You accused me of concealing exculpatory evidence in order to protect a weak argument. The evidence in question -- the Whois record -- was far from exculpatory: it showed you to be in full administrative control of the site.
    I don't recall accusing you of anything like "concealing exculpatory evidence." Rather, I've consistently said that no one has provided a compelling reason why the registration and use of the Wayland School Committee Web site has been inappropriate.

    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Bernstein View Post
    You were in full administrative control of the site. You may have allowed the School Committee to exert editorial control, but that was your decision as Administrator -- a decision you could revoke at your whim. It was for this reason that you agreed to change the registration.
    If the Committee's content was part of the Wayland Public Schools Web site, anyone with that password would be able to similarly lock out anyone else. Changing the registration perhaps gave the Committee a stronger legal footing, but it in no way precluded the hypothetical "hijacking" that you continue to imagine.

    I'm a big believer in "innocent until proven guilty." Supposing that I *might* hijack the site is merely that, supposition. I might also punch a fellow Committee member, yet no one has suggested (yet!) that I be restrained at meetings. To be sure, this unfounded fear of yours is in no way a compelling reason why the site's content should be part of the WPS site.

    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Bernstein View Post
    Every one of those questions requires resolution, and each resolution constitutes an issue. All of these issues would be immediately resolved by placing the site under Town management.
    Okay, I'll address your questions, no of which you have yet suggested was a reason why the Committee's site registration and use is inappropriate. By the way, none of these questions would be resolved by the change you suggest. Instead, the unfounded question simply becomes--why does one group of private citizens get to post content on the WPS Web site?

    Q: Is it appropriate for a page in the public school web site to hyperlink to one and only one privately-operated web site?
    A: Yes, per the Office of Campaign and Political Finance (OCPF). And from a common sense perspective, why would the School Department be forced to link to a Web site potentially inconsistent with the mission of the schools?

    Q: [Is it appropriate for a page in the public school web site to hyperlink] to a web site operated by one group of private citizens advocating their particular positions?
    A: Yes, per the OCPF. In this case, however, the group is not acting as private citizens, but rather, as an officially elected board.

    Q: Who approved the addition of this one hyperlink to the public school web page?
    A: The School Committee.

    Q: Can other private citizens create web sites advocating alternative positions and have hyperlinks inserted into the the public school web page so readers can navigate to their sites too?
    A: No, per the OCPF.

    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Bernstein View Post
    I have not characterized your intentions or actions in this matter as illegal or evil. I have characterized them as defensive, stubborn, and, yes, "reeking of bad judgement".
    Hmm, sounds a bit like taunting. Defensive? Please remind me, what is wrong with defending one's self or organization from "attack?" Stubborn? Call it that if you like, I'm not the first Dieffenbach to be so-called. I prefer "persistent," for what it's worth. "Reeking of bad judgment?" I respectfully disagree, and reiterate that in my opinion, no one has yet come up with a compelling reason why the registration and use of the Wayland School Committee Web site is inappropriate.

  12. #42
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Dieffenbach View Post
    I don't recall accusing you of anything like "concealing exculpatory evidence."
    You did; referring to the site's registration record, you said

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Dieffenbach View Post
    Maybe they looked and saw it, but didn't want to undermine their already tenuous arguments.
    You misunderstood the record. You thought that because the Wayland School Committee was listed as the Registrant Organization and the Admin Organization, they controlled the site. However, you were listed as the Adminstrator: your name, your address, your phone number, your email address. Thus instead of being exculpatory evidence, the record made clear that you controlled the site. Four hours after I pointed this out, you agreed to change the registration, and have done so -- though now, you're pretending to have done so for other reasons.


    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Dieffenbach View Post
    If the Committee's content was part of the Wayland Public Schools Web site, anyone with that password would be able to similarly lock out anyone else. Changing the registration perhaps gave the Committee a stronger legal footing, but it in no way precluded the hypothetical "hijacking" that you continue to imagine.
    Wrong. If the Committee's content were part of the Wayland Public Schools Web and someone managed to hijack the site, the Town could quickly regain control of the site, and without legal action. In contrast, with you listed as the site's Administrator, the Committee could not in the event of a disagreement gain control of the site without legal action -- and their prospects would not be good. Now that you've changed the record, the Committee would likely prevail -- but only after taking legal action.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Dieffenbach View Post
    I'm a big believer in "innocent until proven guilty." Supposing that I *might* hijack the site is merely that, supposition. I might also punch a fellow Committee member, yet no one has suggested (yet!) that I be restrained at meetings. To be sure, this unfounded fear of yours is in no way a compelling reason why the site's content should be part of the WPS site.
    If a simple corrective action can prevent a nasty situation from arising, the pro-active leader takes that action. He or she doesn't waste time defending inaction by debating the probabilities.


    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Dieffenbach View Post
    Okay, I'll address your questions, no of which you have yet suggested was a reason why the Committee's site registration and use is inappropriate.
    I suggested that all of them are reasons why the Committee's site registration and use is inappropriate.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Dieffenbach View Post
    By the way, none of these questions would be resolved by the change you suggest. Instead, the unfounded question simply becomes--why does one group of private citizens get to post content on the WPS Web site?
    Wrong. If the School Committee web site were managed by the town along with the WPS web site, no group of private citizens would be posting content on the WPS Web site. Elected members of the Wayland School Committee would be posting content on their official site.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Dieffenbach View Post
    Q: Is it appropriate for a page in the public school web site to hyperlink to one and only one privately-operated web site?
    A: Yes, per the Office of Campaign and Political Finance (OCPF). And from a common sense perspective, why would the School Department be forced to link to a Web site potentially inconsistent with the mission of the schools?

    Q: [Is it appropriate for a page in the public school web site to hyperlink] to a web site operated by one group of private citizens advocating their particular positions?
    A: Yes, per the OCPF. In this case, however, the group is not acting as private citizens, but rather, as an officially elected board.

    Q: Who approved the addition of this one hyperlink to the public school web page?
    A: The School Committee.

    Q: Can other private citizens create web sites advocating alternative positions and have hyperlinks inserted into the the public school web page so readers can navigate to their sites too?
    A: No, per the OCPF.

    Suppose some organization asks the town to add a hyperlink from the WPS web site to their private web site. Further suppose the town refuses. The organization brings suit, pointing out that the town provides hyperlinks from the WPS site to some private web sites -- namely yours -- but refuses theirs. The fact that the OCPF doesn't object doesn't make your actions reasonable or appropriate; it just means that they're not illegal.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Dieffenbach View Post
    Defensive? Please remind me, what is wrong with defending one's self or organization from "attack?"
    See the 5th meaning in http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/defensive:

    excessively concerned with guarding against the real or imagined threat of criticism, injury to one's ego, or exposure of one's shortcomings

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Dieffenbach View Post
    Stubborn? Call it that if you like, I'm not the first Dieffenbach to be so-called. I prefer "persistent," for what it's worth. "Reeking of bad judgment?" I respectfully disagree, and reiterate that in my opinion, no one has yet come up with a compelling reason why the registration and use of the Wayland School Committee Web site is inappropriate.
    The difference between "stubborn" and "persistent" comes down to judgement. With good judgement, you're persistent; with bad judgement, you're stubborn.

    The current School Committee web site arrangement is a kludge, Jeff -- poorly conceived, and poorly implemented. You'll clearly defend it to the death; I hope it doesn't come back to bite us.

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    Dave, we might as well agree to disagree. You say the WSC site is "bad judgment." I say that you haven't articulated why. It's worked well for years.

    To be sure, it's no masterpiece of Web development. No Flash, no interactive forms. But it's easily navigable, with everything available from the home page, and it works as a way to post information and to send out electronic newsletters.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Dieffenbach View Post
    Dave, we might as well agree to disagree. You say the WSC site is "bad judgment." I say that you haven't articulated why.
    I have clearly articulated why hosting the site privately leaves the town vulnerable to legal action. I have also suggested a straightforward change that would avert this possibility.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Dieffenbach View Post
    It's worked well for years.
    The absence of past damage does not prove the absence of future vulnerability.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Dieffenbach View Post
    To be sure, it's no masterpiece of Web development. No Flash, no interactive forms. But it's easily navigable, with everything available from the home page, and it works as a way to post information and to send out electronic newsletters.
    The same would be true if the site were administered by the town with content managed by you.

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    The School Department would be subject to *more* hypothetical (and unfounded) legal action were the Committee to carry out its current activities on the WPS site.
    Last edited by Jeff Dieffenbach; 04-07-2009 at 11:56 AM. Reason: Emphasis added.

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