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Hillsdale City Clerk Stephen French was placed on unpaid admin­is­trative leave Monday for vio­lating the city’s social media policy.

Wiki­media Commons

City Manager David Mackie said French sent an “inap­pro­priate” email to a Hillsdale County res­ident.

Mackie said this was the first time the city has enforced its social media policy, which states city employees can’t “dis­crim­inate or harass res­i­dents while in office” and that they must “maintain the city’s rep­u­tation” both on and offline.

The res­ident — iden­tified on social media as Marcy Almay — was active in voicing crit­i­cisms of French, setting up Facebook pages for that purpose.

In his email to Almay, French ref­er­enced an alleged arrest of Almay’s in 2014.

French sent the email after Almay allegedly cir­cu­lated a story about his past. In 2009, according to MLive, French was arrested in Ohio for solic­iting a pros­titute and han­dling a firearm while intox­i­cated.

“My friends called and told me you sent an email. Just wanted you to know anyone can cut and paste,” French said in the email, implying he would spread infor­mation about Almay.

French could not be reached for comment. Mackie said French is scheduled to return to work on Thursday.

“Most employees and elected offi­cials abide by common-sense rules,” Mackie said. “This was an example when an employee didn’t keep himself in check. Stephen was aware of the vio­lation. He felt like he was repeatedly attacked, and he fell victim to responding in an inap­pro­priate manner.”

Mackie said he hopes this incident proves to be an example of how influ­ential social media can be.

“We felt this needed to be addressed,” he said. “But we hope we won’t have to address it again in the future.”

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Kaylee McGhee
Kaylee McGhee is a senior at Hillsdale College, majoring in Politics with a minor in Journalism. This is her fourth year writing for the Collegian and she serves as the paper's Opinions Editor. Kaylee worked in Washington D.C. last year and wrote for the Weekly Standard. Her work has also appeared in the Detroit News and the Orange County Register. Follow her on Twitter: @KayleeDMcGhee email: kmcghee@hillsdale.edu