The Yes on Measure B campaign is using district facilities to run a campaign precinct walk this weekend to s school bond placed on the ballot by the AUSHD Board of Education.
On Wednesday, February 5, Yes on Measure B is holding an after-school precinct walk to convince voters to support a $398 million school bond placed on the March 3 primary election ballot bu the Anaheim Union High School District Board of Education. The precinct walks will be held at the nine high school campuses in the district. The online ad for the precinct walk urges Measure B supporters to sign up with the the Anaheim Secondary Teachers Association (ASTA) shop stewards at each high school:
This prompts some obvious and reasonable questions, especially: how can taxpayer-funded, publicly-owned resources be used for private electioneering activity like the Yes on Measure B campaign precinct walk?
Article 2, Section 7054 (a) of the California Education Code states:
“No school district or community college district funds, services, supplies, or equipment shall be used for the purpose of urging the support or defeat of any ballot measure or candidate, including, but not limited to, any candidate for election to the governing board of the district.”
It is crystal clear from the above flyer the Yes on Measure B campaign is using public property and resources to organize and stage the precinct walk. It’s illegal to put election campaign signs on public property – how can it be legal to conduct election campaign activities on public property?
California Government Code 54964 also prohibits school districts from authorizing “the expenditure of funds” in “support or oppose the approval or rejection of a ballot measure.” Allowing the Measure B campaign to use AUHSD facilities for stage campaign precinct walks could very well be considered an “in kind” contribution to the Yes on Measure B campaign.
Anaheim Blog reached out to ASTA President Grant Schuster via e-mail to ask if the union believes it is legal and/or appropriate to use public property to support campaign electioneering in support of Measure B.
Schuster responded, “While ASTA supports the passage of Measure B, the Association is not responsible for and has not participated in any decisions related to the Measure B campaign. To clarify, the ASTA logo contained on this document is an indication of support not sponsorship. Questions related to the Measure B campaign should be addressed to the Measure B campaign committee.”
When asked why the flyers asks those intending to participate in the walk are directed to sign up with ASTA site representatives at each school, Schuster responded:
“As ASTA has officially endorsed Measure B, the Association is encouraging members to walk in support of bond passage. We have nothing to do with planning, organizing or funding the bond campaign. That is solely the purview of the Measure B campaign committee.”
Regardless, ASTA shop stewards are obviosuly directly involved in the organization and staging of a political campaign event on public property.
As noted, the Measure B precinct walks will be staged from AUSHD high school campuses, shortly after school lets out. Will participating ASTA members be allowed to use their teaching positions to recruit students to participate in the precinct walk?
We posed that question to the AUHSD’s public information officer today. We also asked if the AUSHD:
- Gave ASTA permission to use its high school campuses to stage this campaign precinct walk?
- Has a policy governing the use of district facilities such as school campuses to conduct political election campaigns?
- Considers it legal and/or appropriate to allow ASTA and Measure B proponents to use AUHSD resources to advocate for Measure B when many AUSHD taxpayers oppose Measure B?
We have still received no response from the AUHSD. If past experience is any guide, it’s 50-50 that we get a response before the election is over.
When school districts place ballot measures before the voters, state law does permit them to provide information to the public – as long as “the information provided constitutes an accurate, fair, and impartial presentation of relevant facts to aid the voters in reaching an informed judgment regarding the ballot measure.”
In this case, there is nothing fair or impartial going on: AUSHD resources are being used for express advocacy: urging voters to mark their ballots “Yes” on Measure B is by definition the opposite of “fair and impartial.”
It isn’t surprising ASTA is using school property to wage its electioneering efforts. State law embeds teachers unions into the fabric, structure and operations of public schools. For example, AUSHD taxpayers pay for ASTA President Grant Schuster’s teaching salary – even though he does not set foot in a classroom because being union president is a full-time job. Consequently, teachers unions tend to take a proprietary view of school facilities.
[Editor’s Note: an earlier version of this story incorrectly stated the precinct walk was being sponsored by ASTA. According to ASTA President Grant Schuster. The article has been updated accordingly.]