Lewisville ISD reprimanded by Texas attorney general for voting video

The Lewisville ISD superintendent got a slap on the hand this week from Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton for his message to teachers urging them to show up and vote.

The district says it was just a "get out the vote" campaign, but Paxton calls it "unlawful electioneering."

Lewisville Schools superintendent Kevin Rogers, in a video posted to the district's website, encouraged teachers to vote in the March primary.

“It is time to send a clear message to those who oppose public schools, to those who want to take away the core of our communities, who want to divert precious funds from public schools and give it to for profit organizations,” Rogers said in the video.

The video does not specifically name a political party or candidate, but Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton was made aware of it and sent a cease and desist letter Lewisville ISD and two other Texas districts, accusing them of violating Texas education code when it comes to electioneering.

The letter says school districts "may not use state or local funds or other resources to electioneer for or against any candidate, measure, or political party."

SMU Political Science Professor Matthew Wilson said the video is right on the line of potentially violating the education code.

“I think the most problematic part of it is that it does reference specific policies. The video talks about particular things in the legislature that the school district opposed. So in that sense it's a kind of specific political statement that runs afoul of the law,” Wilson said.

Lewisville ISD issued statement, which reads in part: "We dispute any characterization of the district's get out the vote campaign as anything other than an effort to engage the LISD staff and community in their constitutional right to vote and advocate for themselves."

Wilson says a bigger issue is at play -- electing candidates that support or oppose school choice, which could affect state spending on public education.

“The issue that the school districts are concerned about is the school choice question because they don't like school choice, they don't want any sort of voucher system, they want voters to elect candidates who will oppose major overhauls of the current school financing system,” Wilson said. “Paxton is on the other side of that question. So this really is a proxy fight over the school choice issue.”

Wilson also questions the real impact the video might have.

“If all the action in a lot of these districts is really in the Republican primary and a lot of these teachers are Democrats, are they really going to show up and vote in a Republican primary,” Wilson said.

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