Opinion: Del Mar Union School District should stop using taxpayer-funded resources for politics

Del Mar Union School District is provided funds by taxpayers to teach our children, but they are breaking the law by expending those resources in an attempt to influence the political process. Last week a database of emergency telephone numbers provided by parents were used with the school district’s automated calling system to deliver a political message recorded by district superintendent James Peabody. This is not an isolated incident. School facilities, equipment, personnel and resources are being illegally used in a lobbying effort.

Examples include:

• School property being used to hold organizational meetings

• Photocopying and resources being used to produce biased literature

• Computer servers used for electronic communications to organize lobbying efforts

• Teacher time during the contracted work hours of 7:45-2:45 have been utilized

• School databases have been used to generate mailing and calling lists

Under California law, including Education Code 7054, school districts are strictly prohibited from engaging in political advocacy using public resources. No use may be made of school property, funds, personnel, supplies or equipment to influence politics. Violation of this provision can either be a misdemeanor or felony and is punishable by fines and/or imprisonment. 7054(c).

Of course citizens, including teachers and administrators, are free to communicate their desires to the government, but they must use their own resources. It is also permissible for people to distribute facts, but that is not happening.

In this case, the union is using school district resources to embark on a propaganda campaign where kids are used as human shields behind which they yell “No More Cuts!” and “Protect Our Kids.” The facts are DMUSD spending has increased 46 percent over the last eight years and in only one of those years did the budget decline. DMUSD now spends more than $10,000 per student — a number that has GROWN every year for the last six years. Eighty-seven percent of school district monies are spent on teachers’ and administrators’ salaries and benefits. Any calls to protect kids are more accurately efforts to protect salaries.

It is a serious breach of the public trust when government officials spend public funds to create an advantage for one side of a political campaign. It’s even more egregious when they intentionally mislead caring parents with claims of false cuts. I call on the DMUSD school board to immediately cease using taxpayer-funded resources for political purposes.

Michael Robertson

   
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