FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
The Yes on Proposition 75 Campaign violated the state Education Code when it sent a political email to teachers in their classrooms through school district email systems, charged teachers, school administrators and school board members in a news conference call today.
"The California Education Code is very clear," said Beverly Tucker, Chief Counsel for the California Teachers Association. "It prohibits the use of school district email systems by any person or campaign for the purpose of urging 'the support or defeat of any ballot measure.'"
CTA is sending letters to county district attorneys, informing them of the Ed. Code violation. Ed. Code Sec. 7054(c) provides that violations of this section shall be a misdemeanor or felony punishable by imprisonment for as long as three years and/or by a fine not exceeding $1,000.00.
"My phone has been ringing non-stop from teachers who were shocked to have received the email in their classrooms," said CTA President Barbara E. Kerr. "They were also quick to notice that the deceptive email didn't really come from a classroom teacher as it was portrayed, but was written and paid for by two millionaires who are the lead contributors to the Yes on 75 campaign and school voucher supporters."
Indicating that the email is official political campaign material, the email includes the political disclaimer, paid for by… "Yes on 75, A Coalition of Taxpayer Associations with funding by Robin P. Arkley, II and Frank E. Baxter, 1500 W. El Camino Avenue, Suite 113, Sacramento, CA 95833."
"As an association representing school leaders, we take seriously our responsibility to ensure that maximum resources are devoted to classroom instruction and to inform educators against using public funds for political purposes. The education code is very clear in noting the dos and don'ts during political campaigns," said Bob Wells, Executive Director of the Association of California School Administrators. "California teachers, school leaders and the entire education community deserve politicians' and campaigns' respect in order to focus on education's top priority: our students. Spamming educators with political propaganda is plain counterproductive."
"School board members are always concerned about the use of the district-owned email system for campaign purposes. Staff time should not be diverted from the important work that goes on in our school's classrooms," said Scott Plotkin, Executive Director of the California School Boards Association. "We welcome a resolution of this matter by the courts."
The Yes on 75 Campaign announced earlier this week that they would be sending emails to 90,000 teachers across the state.
Don Heinsohn, a teacher at James Logan High School in Union City was appalled at receiving the email in his classroom, but was even more surprised when he tried to respond and have a dialogue with the campaign, but his email was rejected. He also visited the campaign's website in an attempt to find a list of teachers who support Prop. 75, but instead found only a phone
number to call.
"I tried to reply, and let these people know how the Governor's bad ideas would hurt our students and schools, but my reply was rejected by a spam blocker," said Heinsohn. "It's certainly clear to me that Prop. 75 really is about silencing my voice and my ability to speak out for my students and public schools."