LEWISVILLE, TX — Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton Wednesday sent cease and desist letters to three Texas school districts he alleges used taxpayer resources to send political messages to staff and the public. Among those is Lewisville ISD, which Paxton said committed electioneering when officials created a video featuring District Superintendent Kevin Rogers addressing voters.
In the video, Rogers asks viewers to use his or her "teacher voice" to elect pro-education legislators in the March primaries.
"It is time to send a clear message to those who oppose public schools, who want to take away the core of our communities, who want to divert precious funds from public schools and give it to for-profit organizations," Rogers said in the video.
Paxton, in the cease and desist letter, designates the video, along with social media posts, as instances of electioneering.
"…We ask you to withdraw the above noted communication, and any like communications, and cease from making any further communications designed to support or oppose certain political candidates, or which may otherwise run afoul of Texas law," the attorney general’s office wrote in the letter.
In a press release regarding the cease and desist letters, Paxton wrote Texas schools are encouraged to educate students about voting and other civic duties, but that spending public funds on campaigns advocating for or against certain candidates is illegal.
"My office fully encourages Texas schools to educate their students on civic duties and assist them in registering to vote. But pushing faculty or others to vote for a particular person is a clear violation of the Texas Election and Education Codes," Paxton said in a release. "These school districts must understand that they are responsible, as all state agencies are, for refraining from spending public funds on advocating for or opposing political candidates. The electioneering of these school districts is unacceptable and a poor example of the civic responsibility, integrity, and honesty that Texas educators should model for our students."
Electioneering is a Class A misdemeanor charge, which is punishable by up to one year in prison and a fine of up to $4,000.
A Lewisville ISD spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The attorney general also sent letters to Brazosport ISD and Holliday ISD. You can read each of the letters using the links below:
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