Education

Texas Education Dept. Launches Investigation Into School District Allegedly Tracking Teachers Votes For Pricey Bond

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Chrissy Clark Education Reporter
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The Texas Department of Education is reportedly investigating a San Antonio school district for allegedly tracking how many teachers were voting for a nearly $1 billion bond, according to whistleblower documents obtained by a school choice advocate.

A Northside Independent School District (NISD) notified employees that they “will be expected” to vote for a bond to increase school funding by $992 million, according to documents obtained by Corey DeAngelis, the Director of Research at the American Federation for Children. In an email to employees, the principal claimed that the district’s “Central Office will be monitoring campus percentages for employee voting [statistics].”

Documents from the principal suggested that the district’s superintendent found it “unacceptable” that “only 7% of NISD employees voted during our last NISD Bond.” The principal told all employees that they “will be expected to vote for this year’s Bond.”

An April 28 email obtained by DeAngelis shows that the school principal claimed that the district provides updated lists on how many employees voted from each campus.

NISD’s superintendent posted weekly newsletters that “strongly encourage” staff to vote, while directly calling for “better” “employee voter participation.” The superintendent emailed staff on April 21, claiming that low staff turnout is “perplexing” and “a shame,” according to documents from DeAngelis.

“If bond funds … are not available to us, we will still have maintenance repairs … To set aside millions … would require budget cuts in our general fund,” the superintendent said.

Northside American Federation of Teachers (NAFT), the union representing NISD employees, sent an email on April 20 claiming that several employees felt intimidated to vote for the bond in light of the district’s communications.

“Many employees have felt threatened and feel intimidated to vote for this bond. We want to be clear that telling employee voters how to vote, or forcing them to vote, is unlawful,” the email reads. “We have addressed this with the district and are awaiting communication.”

The district denies that its messaging coerced employees to vote, according to a statement provided to the Washington Examiner. The district claims that their messages “never intended to be coercive, and immediate measures were taken to clarify and correct any messaging that may have been misrepresented, misinterpreted, or miscommunicated.”

“Throughout this school bond election, NISD has communicated with bond legal counsel to ensure all legal requirements have been met, including an ethics presentation by bond legal counsel to all district leaders,” the district said. “NISD has utilized common practices and strategies to analyze and gauge voter engagement – always with the intent to educate and inform our stakeholders and to encourage voter participation.”

The bond passed with over 57% support, according to the Washington Examiner. (RELATED: Teacher Who Won South Carolina Teacher Of The Year, BMW Advocates For CRT)

Republican Gov. Greg Abbott announced via Twitter that the state’s Education Department launched an investigation into the matter. According to the school electioneering section of the Texas election code, school district officials are prohibited from using public resources to advocate for or against a measure.

“I have spoken with Texas Education Commissioner Mike Morath about this. He confirms that IF these posts are verified, then it is likely a crime,” Abbott said. “The Education Commissioner [will] work with the Attorney General’s Office to investigate and, if appropriate, prosecute this matter.”

The Governor’s office routed the Daily Caller’s request for comment to the Texas Department of Education. The Texas Department of Education did not respond to the Daily Caller’s request for comment.