On the eve of Election Day, citizens accused Wylie Independent School District officials of illegally electioneering by sending out mailers they say are intended to help establishment candidates in hotly contested school board races on the November 8 ballot.
The mailers, produced and distributed by the district at local taxpayers’ expense, claim to present “the facts” and counter “misinformation” about key campaign issues in the current election for four school board trustees.
Four newcomers—Jill Palmer, Jeffrey Keech, Kevin Brooks, and Michael Schwerin—are running as a slate against an establishment they say is out of touch with the core values of local parents and taxpayers. Their campaigns call for the district to eliminate social and ideological indoctrination and provide more transparency.
Palmer and Schwerin face incumbents Stacie Smith and Jacob Day, while Keech and Brooks are competing for open seats.
The four challengers are endorsed by the Republican Party of Texas and the conservative 1776 Project PAC. All 15 Texas school trustee candidates backed by the PAC in May won their elections.
The postcards hit mailboxes over the weekend, in the midst of the voting period.
The same information included on the mailers was also posted on the district’s website.
On Sunday, an attorney representing the citizens sent the district a cease and desist letter, reminding school officials that “the Texas Education Code prohibits the expense of WISD funds (i.e., taxpayer money) in this manner.”
The content and the timing of this material underscores that it is political advertising meant to support certain candidates and oppose others. As you can see, there is no requirement that support or opposition mention the candidate or measure by name. Simply put, it is unlawful for WISD to use public money on this electioneering and political advertising.
As of publication, the information was still posted on Wylie ISD’s website.
A similar electioneering situation is unfolding in Kaufman Independent School District, where school officials were caught using district resources to send messages pressuring parents and students to vote for $89 million in school bonds on the November ballot.
Two other Texas school districts, Belton ISD in Central Texas and Northside ISD in San Antonio, are under investigation by the Texas Education Agency for alleged illegal electioneering in May bond elections.
Voting in the November 8 election ends at 7 p.m.