Two Denton Independent School District administrators facing criminal electioneering charges delayed court appearances set for Monday.

Jesus and Lindsay Lujan, a husband and wife who are both Denton ISD employees, were scheduled to be arraigned Monday morning in Denton County criminal courts.

Their hearings were rescheduled to June 18, according to a court officer.

The Lujans are each charged with unlawful use of an internal mail system for political advertising, a Class A misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail and a $4,000 fine.

The charges mark the first time Texas school officials have been criminally prosecuted for using public resources to electioneer.

Both were indicted on April 2, after local voters submitted affidavits to Denton County District Attorney Paul Johnson that alleged the Lujans engaged in criminal election interference.

The affidavits included evidence that the Lujans used Denton ISD’s email system to incentivize employees to vote in the March 5 primary for anti-school choice Republicans.

The emails sent to school staff by Lindsay Lujan, Denton ISD’s director of special programs, and by Jesus Lujan, principal of Borman Elementary, offered to “provide coverage” for all school employees to “go and vote in the Texas Republican Primary” for candidates who “support public education and school funding.”

Terry Senne, a recent Denton ISD school board candidate who is following the Lujans’ cases, was in the courtroom Monday.

Senne told Texas Scorecard she was “disappointed” the cases were delayed.

“Resolving the electioneering cases quickly could serve as a deterrent for other administrators across ISDs that there are negative consequences to illegal actions taken,” she said. “Continuation of these cases will only prolong the actual outcome of the cases. The longer cases are continued, the more likely people will begin to forget that this ever happened. And then it will be quietly swept under the rug again.”

She added, “Our individual right to vote is a privilege. No one—including individuals who have positional authority over Denton ISD employees in this case—has the right to threaten or demand that we vote in a certain primary and that we vote for particular candidates, especially at taxpayer expense.”

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

State senators are scheduled to meet later this month to evaluate current electioneering laws and make “recommendations to strengthen these laws and put a stop to illegal electioneering.”

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.