It's Election Season: Inform, Don't Advocate

It's hard to escape the blitz of TV commercials and the barrage of signs along sidewalks and the highway. It's election season. So what should school officials remember? Inform, don't advocate.

Education Code section 7054 prohibits the use of district funds, services, supplies or equipment for the purpose of urging the support or defeat of any ballot measure or candidate. Below are some do's and don'ts for this election season.

Do's for Election Season:

  • A board member may engage in political activity as a private citizen, as long as it doesn't involve the use of public funds. Board members may indicate their titles when urging support for a ballot measure, but should make clear that his/her title is for identification purposes only.
  • A board member may attend a citizens group at the request of a group to discuss the reasons why the governing board of the district called an election to submit to the voters of the district a proposition for the issuance of bonds and for purposes of responding to inquiries from the citizens group.
  • The board may adopt a resolution in support or in opposition of a legislative proposal at a regular meeting where the public is given the opportunity to express its views. The language must be “simple, measured, and informative” and may not “urge” members of the public to take any action in support or opposition to the measure.
  • A school district may provide informational materials to the public regarding a ballot measure but must ensure that any such materials are purely informational utilizing objective facts which are consistent with the normal communication the district uses to address other topics.
  • School districts may make a school forum available to the public to discuss a ballot measure or issue so long as the forum is made available to all sides on an equitable basis. If the district chooses to make a facility available to one group, then all groups and sides must be given the opportunity to appear. 

 Don'ts for Election Season:

  • No campaign support or contributions may be sought on school property during school hours.
  • No political activities on school property may be conducted during school hours.
  • No school equipment may be used for the reproduction of campaign materials.
  • No school supplies or funds may be used for campaign materials which support or oppose a particular candidate.
  • No campaign materials may be posted on school property.
  • No campaign materials may be disseminated through district mail services or placed in staff mailboxes.
  • Students may not be used to write, address, or distribute campaign materials.
  • No campaigning for a particular candidate may take place during a school board meeting.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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