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Texas attorney general sues school district alleging illegal electioneering

Emails on official accounts encouraged school employees to vote for anti-school choice candidates in legislative races, suit alleges

Published: February 24, 2024 9:01am

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has sued a local school district, alleging it engaged in illegal electioneering by using official email accounts to encourage employees to vote for specific legislative candidates who opposed school choice vouchers.

The lawsuit filed this week against the Denton Independent School District alleges a director of special programs and as many as two principals sent emails on official school district account encouraging employees to vote for legislative candidates who oppose school choice candidates.

One of the email “encourages the staff of Borman Elementary School to vote in the Republican primary, even if the staff member is not a Republican, ‘for candidates who support public education and school funding,’” the lawsuit noted. “It states that ‘historically, 85% of PRIMARY voters3 in TX want vouchers. That’s why it is so important that teachers and public school and funding advocates show up at the primaries.’”

Paxton said state law strictly prohibits the use public education funds and resources for election activities.

“The emails constitute political advertising because they are communications supporting or opposing a candidate for nomination to a public office that appeared in a pamphlet, circular, flier, billboard or other sign, bumper sticker, or similar form of written communication—namely, an email message,” the lawsuit stated.

You can read the lawsuit here.

Paxton said in a statement he hopes the lawsuit will serve as a warning to any and all state employees to avoid the misuse of public funds for election activities.

“Government officials everywhere are on notice that I will use every legal remedy available to me to stop school districts from influencing or coercing their employees to vote any particular way, especially when a district uses taxpayer resources and money to do so. Our elections must be completely protected from any illegal interference.”

Denton school district issued a statement saying it has creatred policies directing all employees on what is permissible on elections, most recently in 2018 and 2021.

“We train all trustees and administrators on these policies annually. It is our expectation that these policies be followed," the district said. "Our employees' passion for serving our students and community is undeniable. The current primary elections on March 5 are especially significant for public education. These elected officials will make crucial decisions that impact our students, teachers, families and our district as a whole."

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