As election season approaches, it is a good time to remind everyone that school district employees are prohibited from using district resources to advocate for or against a particular candidate, party, or measure. District resources include our mail/email systems, as well as campus/classroom/teacher websites and social media accounts. Employees are free to support any political candidate or issue but must ensure that the support is in the employee鈥檚 individual capacity and on their own personal time.

For additional information, please refer to .

Legal & Ethical Guidelines on Bond Elections

The District has a responsibility to inform all voters about the bond election on November 2, 2021. It is important that the District lead an 鈥渋nformation-only鈥 effort with the following guidelines:

  1. It is our responsibility to inform the public about the bond measure and to encourage voter registration and participation.
  2. Public funds (including your time on the job) must not be used in any way to advocate (promote or discourage) the passage of this bond election. For example:
    • Advocacy letters, bulletins, emails, etc. cannot be prepared during an employee鈥檚 workday.
    • Advocacy letters cannot be printed on school stationery.
    • During work hours, individuals can be encouraged to vote, but not yes or no.
    • During work hours, accessing social media using District equipment to engage in any advocacy is prohibited.  
    • Texas law prohibits 鈥渂allot selfies鈥 at polling locations.
  1. Material which promotes or opposes the election must be paid for by individual or citizen advocacy groups.
  2. Consider adding a disclaimer to your personal email or social media postings: 鈥淧lease note this message is personal, rather than official school district business, and was created using personally owned equipment and accounts on my own time.鈥
  3. The Texas Ethics Commission also prohibits subtle forms of advocacy. For example:
    • A website graphic with a check mark (鈭) on a ballot is improper.
    • Pictures of children in a video describing the bond is improper.
  1. When talking on the phone during work hours, you cannot advocate for or against the measure.
    • Advocacy or opposition can only be conducted outside an employee鈥檚 workday.
    • Factual information calls and those encouraging people to exercise their right to vote are not advocacy or opposition calls.

During bond elections, most complaints filed with the Secretary of State鈥檚 Office involve improper use of school district resources for advocacy campaigns.  This use is a direct violation of election laws.

Pamphlets, brochures, fliers, mailers, etc.

Use materials provided by the district, as they have been reviewed by an attorney. In general, unlawful  鈥減olitical advertising鈥 is a written communication that advocates a particular outcome in a bond election.  鈥淎dvocates鈥 means to directly or indirectly encourage a person to vote 鈥測es鈥 or 鈥渘o鈥 to the outcome of the  bond election.  

Written 鈥渃ommunication鈥 can take many forms: billboard, flier, newsletter, poster, newspaper or radio  advertisement, pamphlet, t-shirt, button, or internet site. The prohibition applies to all officers and  employees of the political subdivision including staff and members of the governing body. The prohibition  does not apply to communications that factually describe the bond election.  

A pamphlet or similar communication must be content neutral. To the extent the pamphlet is not neutral in  its description of the election, public funds could not be used to prepare, print, or distribute the pamphlet.  Neutrality extends to the words used, pictures, and graphics. For example, the following phrases are  unlawful political advertising: 鈥済ood schools are the foundation of a good community;鈥 鈥渆very child  deserves a good education;鈥 鈥減ut children first;鈥 and 鈥渟how you care about education.鈥 The check box on  a ballot or the silhouette of parents and child can also be advocacy even if they are visuals.  

Letters to the editor  

Letters to the editor written by either the authorized representative or member of the governing  body are not prohibited, even if the message is in support of, or opposition to, a specific measure in an  upcoming election, if the author does not provide consideration, or payment, for such publication.  

Email & distribution boxes  

An 鈥渋nternal mail system鈥 cannot be used to distribute political advertising. An 鈥渋nternal mail system鈥  means a system operated by a state agency or political subdivision to deliver written documents to  officers or employees of the agency or subdivision. This means a pro-bond political action committee  cannot place fliers in schools for pick up or distribution.

Oral presentations  

There is a difference between 鈥渙n the clock鈥 and 鈥渙ff the clock鈥 for permitted actions/expenditures. Due to the nature and irregular hours of certain positions in district and school leadership, it is not advised that Superintendents, Principals, Directors, or other similar, odd-hour staff actively support or oppose an election measure even when not in their official capacity.

In contrast, the members of the governing body who do not receive salaries for their positions are not  limited by constitutional concerns and could, therefore, make oral presentations in support of the election  measures.

Oral advocacy uses terms like 鈥渂est solution,鈥 鈥渢ime is now,鈥 鈥渇antastic,鈥 鈥渟tate-of-the-art,鈥 鈥渃ountless  benefits,鈥 鈥渉orrible shape,鈥 鈥渘eed,鈥 鈥渨e must do something.鈥  

Sponsored activities  

The District cannot tell people how to vote either verbally or in writing on school time, at school events or  in school facilities. The PTA, pro-bond political action committee, or other organization can hold parent  meetings on campus, and the organization can endorse the bond election and pass out 鈥渧ote yes鈥  material if the material is generated on its own (and not through District equipment or staff). If the District  allows for any such meeting to be held in a school facility, it must provide equal access to those facilities  and resources to the opposing side (preferably, pursuant to a formal, content-neutral policy covering after  hours use of District facilities).