Citizens in Denton County are directing their district attorney to investigate local school district officials for alleged criminal electioneering violations committed during the ongoing primary elections.

With help from the Liberty Justice Center, local voters submitted affidavits to Denton County District Attorney Paul Johnson that describe what they see as criminal election interference by Denton Independent School District officials, who urged employees to vote against pro-school choice candidates.

LJC Attorney Dean McGee noted in his February 27 letter to Johnson that under Section 273.001 of the Texas Election Code, submission of the affidavits requires the district attorney’s office to investigate the matter.

Sec. 273.001. INVESTIGATION OF CRIMINAL CONDUCT. (a) If two or more registered voters of the territory covered by an election present affidavits alleging criminal conduct in connection with the election to the county or district attorney having jurisdiction in that territory, the county or district attorney shall investigate the allegations.

Jace Yarbrough, a Denton County resident and Republican primary candidate for State Senate District 30, also submitted an affidavit to the DA alleging that Denton school officials engaged in criminal conduct by using taxpayer-funded resources to electioneer for specific primary candidates.

Ahead of the March 5 primary election, two Denton ISD administrators—Director of Special Programs Lindsay Lujan and her husband, Borman Elementary Principal Jesus Lujan—sent messages to school staff using the district’s email system that directed employees to vote in the Republican primary for candidates who “support public education and school funding.”

Texas Election Code prohibits government officials and employees from using public funds or internal email systems for political advertising.

Violations are a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail and a $4,000 fine.

Texas Scorecard contacted Johnson’s office to confirm whether an investigation had been opened but did not receive a response before publication.

On February 22, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton filed a civil lawsuit against Denton ISD officials, including the Lujans, seeking a temporary restraining order and injunction against continued acts of what he described as “illegal” election interference.

The lawsuit cites criminal violations of the Texas Election Code, as well as civil violations of the Education Code.

On February 26, Denton ISD’s general counsel said in an email to state lawmakers that the AG’s office has asked for a settlement.

He included a proposed injunction agreement that admitted no wrongdoing or illegal activity by district officials and included a long list of political activities Denton ISD can engage in, such as incentivizing employees to vote with “jeans days,” to create a “culture of voting.”

According to the most recent data from the Texas Education Agency, Denton ISD Superintendent Jamie Wilson’s base salary is $332,000. Less than half of the district’s 32,000 students perform at grade level.

Paxton’s office also filed electioneering claims against Castleberry, Denison, and Frisco school districts.

Castleberry ISD has agreed to an injunction.

A court granted a temporary restraining order against Frisco ISD, requiring the district’s Government Affairs Chair Megan DeWolfe to remove specific Facebook posts regarding the primary. A hearing is scheduled for March 5—the date of the primary election.

Texans regularly report school electioneering activities, particularly during high-stakes bond and tax increase elections, but no government school official has ever been criminally prosecuted. 

In addition to requesting criminal investigations, citizens can report electioneering by school officials to the Texas Ethics Commission, which is authorized to impose fines for election code violations, and to the Texas Education Agency, which can revoke educators’ certifications.

Erin Anderson

Erin Anderson is a Senior Journalist for Texas Scorecard, reporting on state and local issues, events, and government actions that impact people in communities throughout Texas and the DFW Metroplex. A native Texan, Erin grew up in the Houston area and now lives in Collin County.