Prodded by complaints from local political leaders, the Davis school superintendent is reminding principals to comply with election rules.
Superintendent Rich Kendell sent a letter this week to all school administrators "as a reminder of our long-standing policy" to follow election rules in the use of school buildings and personnel for elections.Ed Little, executive director of the Independent Party of Utah, complained last spring to the Davis School Board about several abuses of elections laws.
Little alleged that:
- A poster was placed near a voting booth, showing children in a sardine can and urging voters to approve a $40 million school bond proposal for a new high school.
- PTA members and school district employees used school time and supplies in campaigns.
- A newsletter signed by a principal in favor of the bond was distributed by schoolchildren.
"We don't feel that children should be politicized," said Little. "We don't feel it's ethical or legal."
Flanked by representatives of the Democratic and Libertarian parties, Little attended a school board meeting this week to present his case.
But Board President Lynn Summerhays interrupted Little at one point to say that Kendell's letter addresses the concerns and that some of Little's claims were overstated.
The letter reminds principals that schools may be used for polling places but that state law requires posters and other campaign materials be cleared from the vicinity.
"Schoolchildren are not to be used in any way to design or distribute campaign literature for any issue before the electorate," the letter states.
School buildings and property are not to be used for political purposes other than to inform of places and times of elections.
But, the letter points out, the school board "reserves the right to inform the public of issues that have a direct bearing on the operation of the school district."