The Sherwood School District is in hot water after releasing a letter to parents, students, staff and community members on its publicly-funded website.
The June 4 letter, signed by Superintendent Dr. Heather Cordie and every school board member, added the district’s voice to the national conversation surrounding race relations and the universal outrage over the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
A problem has arisen, however, with one of the “resources” included in the letter.
The inclusion of a document titled “Opportunities for White People in the Fight for Racial Justice,” is a clear violation of Oregon law.
Under the section “electoral politics,” the charts explicitly direct readers to “vote for Democrats,” “donate to campaigns of local progressive politicians … who are trying to unseat incumbent Republicans/conservatives,” and “actively fund-raise for and campaign on behalf of progressive/radical politicians.”
CREDIT: Freedom Foundation
It is an apparent violation of Oregon Revised Statute 260.432, which prohibits the use of public resources for political purposes.
The district was quick to remove the link from its website and issue a tepid apology after its blatant electioneering was exposed by local news outlet, the Northwest Observer, earlier this week.
Public outrage also followed from parents, staff and teachers who certainly took issue with their tax dollars being used to promote a political party or candidate.
The question now is whether anyone will be held accountable.
The situation is made a bit more complicated because the school board chair is none other than Patrick Allen, who also serves as director of the Oregon Health Authority (OHA).
Calls for his resignation from both posts are being raised amid concerns and speculation that if Allen’s partisan bias poisoned his judgment in one position, it disqualifies him from both.
State Rep. Bill Post (R-Keizer) said, “This school board is not a bunch of backwoods rubes. The director of the Oregon Health Authority and a lobbyist for Providence Hospitals should both know better than to have such a naked, partisan push published on a taxpayer-funded website. Further, as people are struggling with the government response to the COVID-19 outbreak, as well as trying to thoughtfully respond to issues of race, it strikes me as very unsportsmanlike for the party in power to use public resources to increase its grip.”
This is a brazen disregard for the law by a group of elected officials who should know better.
To be clear, the school board does not “deeply regret the error.”
What it regrets is being caught in the act.