Another Texas school district’s bond-boosting activities are under state investigation, following complaints the superintendent pressured staff and parents to vote in favor of school bonds worth millions.
On Friday, the Texas Education Agency confirmed that allegations against Belton Independent School District of potential illegal electioneering during the May 7 bond election have been referred to the agency’s Special Investigations Unit for further review.
“We are thrilled to find out that TEA has finally opened an investigation into possible electioneering by Belton ISD,” local resident and government accountability advocate Brenda Howard told Texas Scorecard. “We were worried they were not going to investigate, but it turns out that TEA is simply receiving unprecedented numbers of complaints and [was] backlogged.”
Last month, the TEA launched a criminal investigation into Northside ISD in San Antonio, where officials’ electioneering to boost a $992 million bond may have crossed into coercion.
It’s a violation of the Texas Election Code for school districts to use taxpayer resources to advocate for or against political candidates and measures. It’s also a crime to coerce a voter to vote a certain way.
Belton ISD had two bonds on the May ballot totaling $174 million—all of which must be repaid, with interest, by local property taxpayers. The bonds passed by margins of 41 votes and 2 votes.
Howard added, “We hope this investigation leads to holding Belton ISD accountable for threatening the teachers’ salaries, using children as marketing tools, and sending emails to teachers letting them know that their votes were being tracked.”