Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton issued cease and desist letters to three Texas school districts he believes are participating in unlawful electioneering.
Brazosport, Lewisville and Holliday school districts all received warnings from Paxton Wednesday, condemning them for advocating specific candidates and policies to their staff— a violation of state law.
While school districts are free to promote engagement and help students with voter registration, Paxton says they are not allowed to use funds and other resources to promote or discourage voting for candidates, as these actions are a “clear violation of the Texas Election and Education Codes.”
The incident is just one more altercation in an ongoing struggle to determine the appropriate involvement of public education organizations in primary and general elections. For months, tensions between public education advocates and groups of conservatives have been high.
Much of the conflict can be attributed to a “culture of voting” resolution promoted by the civic engagement group, Texas Educators Vote (TEV). Following the urgings of TEV’s resolution, participating school districts were bussing teachers and students to voting booths for the March primaries.
In December, Sen. Paul Bettencourt, R-Houston, brought the actions of TEV to Paxton’s attention and Paxton deemed the act illegal. Now, the Texas Attorney General is calling out school officials for using public social media accounts and school money to promote certain policies and advocate for certain candidates.
As an example, The Texas Tribune cited Brazosport Superintendent, Danny Massey tweeting in support of Scott Milder — a Republican candidate for lieutenant governor and known public education advocate. Massey’s tweet was later retweeted by Brazoswood High School’s Twitter account.
Paxton responded to these actions in a statement, saying, “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.”
For detailed coverage on Texas Attorney General Paxton, visit our Paxton Under Fire series.