Mishmeres Hasholom – Ask the Rav

Q: As a principal of a school, I call regular meetings with my staff during summer vacation. How should I react when I hear a teacher inquiring from her friend who just finished teaching that same class, about her students for the coming year? Does this exchange of information constitute lashon hara, or is it permissible because of the constructive purpose for the new teacher?

A: It is hard to pinpoint any real to’eles that emerges from such information. It would therefore seem that you should share this with your teachers, telling them that there is no heter to ask about new students. It is important for a teacher to give her students a chance to begin with a clean slate and allow them to prove themselves in the new school year.

However, if the student in question is especially problematic or has a difficult background, and there would be a constructive purpose in passing on the information, it is considered l’to’eles and may be relayed, in keeping with the conditions delineated by the Chofetz Chaim. It is preferable to wait till the school year begins, when the teacher is already familiar with her students and feels a need to inquire about a particular girl.

The questions and answers above were taken from the Mishmeres Hasholom pamphlet in Israel. For details and inquiries please e-mail us at office@hasholom.org or call 972-2 5379160.

The views expressed are of the individual author. Readers are encouraged to consult their own posek for guidance.

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