Shortly before the June 10 primaries, bureaucrats at Lexington School District One decided to flex their political muscle by illegally attacking state house and senate candidates they claimed were associated with school choice reforms. Using school resources to advocate for or against candidates in a political race is illegal, and shows that public school administrators are more interested in protecting their patronage machine than providing South Carolina’s children with a competitive education.
A Voice for School Choice reader, Mr. Vinson, wrote to Superintendent Woodward asking about her use of taxpayer resources in lobbying against candidates (6/5/2008 4:54 PM):
It has come to my attention that the school resources of your District have been used to influence a State Election. I believe that such action warrants a review by the State Ethics Commission as well as a review by other regulatory agencies that examine expenditures by established governmental entities.
Woodward wrote back the next day (June 06, 2008 11:55 AM):
We are always glad to get feedback.
We are satisfied, however, that in communicating with our employees in this manner, we have not in any way violated the ethics law.
We did not discuss nor promote any individual candidate or party.
We simply reminded folks of their responsibility to vote and to be knowledgeable about their choices. None of the links provided endorse any one candidate or candidates.
We believe it is important that folks consider how their candidate stands on issues impacting public education before they vote. And, our board has taken a stand opposing vouchers and even passed a formal resolution opposing vouchers.
As a matter of information, we often conduct voter registration drives at our schools and did so earlier this year.
We regularly encourage our employees and advisory councils to get out and vote. In fact, much of the email you are referencing came from an email that we have used in past years reminding our employees to vote.
Thank you for your interest.
Mr Vinson, feeling that Woodward sidestepped his question, replied (June 07, 2008 5:51 PM):
I do not question the accuracy of your statements in your email strictly construed.
My question to you is to the accuracy of the statement that the “emails on the District Computer ( implored the employees to vote against any
candidate advocating for school choice and noted that with their 3,000 plus votes, the school employees would heavily influence the election results.)” Is the preceding factual? I look forward to the receipt of your response.
As far was we know, Mrs. Woodward did not reply.
Woodward’s smug tone and unapologetic defense of her illegal political meddling show a total disregard for the voters in Lexington. The sole purpose of a public school district is to provide for the education of children living within its boundaries; not to serve as a partisan political apparatus. The actions of Woodward, as well as similarly illegal advocacy by Jim Rex, make it clear that so-called “public educators” often place the political agenda of public schools before the educational needs of children in the state.