Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Barbara Boxer Senate campaign has solicited Los Angeles teachers to recruit students as Boxer volunteers

"Barbara Boxer asked LAUSD to violate the law!"

Via Republican Jon Fleischman's "Flash Report" blog, the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association has complained to the L.A. school district and board of education that the Barbara Boxer Senate campaign has solicited Los Angeles teachers to recruit students as Boxer volunteers.
California unions are waging a get-out-the-vote drive for Boxer, who is gaining on Republican opponent Carly Fiorina in recent polls. It's not clear if students were solicited outside the bounds of state law. This red meat may be aimed at stirring up the GOP base.

The anti-tax group cited a "Dear Teachers" letter on the Boxer campaign letterhead that said, "As you may know, Senator Boxer is facing her toughest race yet," and students will "gain an invaluable educational experience on one of the highest profile Senate races this election...The Boxer campaign needs volunteers...."

The group said the California Education Code prohibits political recruitment of students, citing section 51520:

"During school hours, and within one hour before the time of opening and within one hour after the time of closing of school, pupils of the public school shall not be solicited on school premises by teachers or others to subscribe or contribute to the funds of, to become members of, or to work for, any organization not directly under the control of the school authorities, unless the organization is a nonpartisan, charitable organization organized for charitable purposes by an act of Congress or under the laws of the state, the purpose of the solicitation is nonpartisan and charitable, and the solicitation has been approved by the county board of education or by the governing board of the school district in which the school is located."

Boxer campaign manager Rose Kapolczynski had this explanation: "Because some local social studies teachers encourage students to volunteer, Boxer campaign volunteer coordinators notified a handful of schools near the campaign headquarters that the campaign was accepting volunteers. The letter did not ask teachers to solicit students to work on the campaign or to use school facilities, supplies or equipment for political purposes. The sole intent of the letter was to provide interested students with information about a volunteer opportunity. However, the letter, which was written by a volunteer and reviewed by a junior staffer, was inappropriate and we apologize. The author of the letter has been counseled and campaign coordinators will no longer conduct outreach to public schools."
Posted By: Carolyn Lochhead October 27 2010

Read more:
Today the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association notified the Los Angeles Unified School District and the Los Angeles Board of Education today that, in abject ignorance of California state law, the political campaign of Senator Barbara Boxer has openly solicited teachers employed by LAUSD to urge their students to volunteer for her campaign.

HJTA's letter to the school district urges LAUSD to immediately inform all its personnel, credentialed or otherwise, that it would be a clear violation of law for teachers to recruit their students on school property during school hours to volunteer for a specific political campaign.
Pursuant to both case law and a specific provision of the California Education Code, what Boxer wants would leave LAUSD subject to both civil and potentially criminal sanctions. Common sense should also tell her that seeking public resources and classroom time from teachers to do her political bidding is just wrong. Barbara Boxer should know better.

A copy of the letter was faxed to both the school district and the Board of Education this morning, and is attached below.

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