With the primary election underway, Texas school districts’ utilization of taxpayer-funded resources to get out the vote is being closely scrutinized. 

Denison Independent School District Superintendent David Kirkbride sent out an email to Denison ISD employees encouraging them to vote for candidates who “support public education” while decrying the governor’s push for school choice for Texas students.  

“The stakes could not be higher for public education! We as educators MUST stand together. The anti-public education mind-set in Austin should have educators’ full attention, and IT SHOULD HAVE DENISON ISD’S FULL ATTENTION,” wrote Kirkbride. 

I want to remind you that school districts across the state are facing unprecedented difficult financial circumstances as a result of the actions of Governor Greg Abbott, and others, who unapologetically withheld billions of funding dollars designated for public schools. They have refused to release these funding dollars because of the lack of support of their voucher plan (education savings accounts, “school choice”, etc.). As a result, school districts have not received an increase in funding since 2019.

What is happening in Austin is wrong. It is wrong for our students. It is wrong for our employees. It is wrong for our community. We need to support candidates who support public education.

“I strongly encourage each of us to take time to educate ourselves about candidates who support public education,” added Kirkbride. “There are candidate races on the March 5 election ballot that represent Denison in both the Texas House and Senate. Please learn about each candidate and plan to vote accordingly.” 

The Texas Election Code prohibits public employees from using public resources to electioneer.  

However, Christine Welborn, executive director of election security organization Advancing Integrity, told Texas Scorecard that while Kirkbride might not have crossed the legal line into electioneering, the implications of telling staff whom to vote for are still present in his message. 

“School resources should never be used to for electioneering. Kirkbride may not actually be naming a slate of candidates, but the implications are clear,” said Welborn. 

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton announced that he is filing civil actions against Denton ISD for allowing two administrators to send explicit political messages to staff in what Paxton describes as “illegal” election activity.

Government school officials accused of illegal electioneering can also be reported 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. 

Texas Scorecard reached out to Denison ISD but did not receive a response before publication. 

Sydnie Henry

A born and bred Texan, Sydnie serves as the Managing Editor for Texas Scorecard. She graduated from Patrick Henry College with a B.A. in Government and is utilizing her research and writing skills to spread truth to Texans.