Comment: CA Parents: CA Education Code Excerpts

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CA Parents: CA Education Code Excerpts

Did a little homework. Feel free to make use of this info as you see fit.

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District Participation in Ballot Initiatives within Legal Limits
Sources: CA Education Code and www.fagenfriedman.com (educational law firm)

2. General Principles

a. The government must, to the greatest extent possible, avoid taking measures that influence,
adulterate, or frustrate the resolution of issues that the California and federal Constitutions leave
to the “free election” of the people. (Cal.Const., art. II; Stanson v. Mott (1976) 17 Cal.3d 206,
218; Gould v. Grubb (1975) 14 Cal.3d 661, 667.)

b. “A fundamental precept of this nation’s democratic electoral process is that THE GOVERNMENT MAY NOT 'TAKE SIDES' IN ELECTION CONTESTS OR BESTOW AN UNFAIR ADVANTAGE ON ONE OF SEVERAL COMPETING FACTIONS. A principal danger feared by our country’s founders lay in the possibility that the
holders of governmental authority would use official power improperly to perpetuate themselves,
or their allies, in office.

3. Use of District Resources for Ballot Measures

a. California Education Code §§ 7050 et seq. imposes strict limitations on the use of district
resources for ballot and bond measures.

b. Section 7054, subdivision (a), states in relevant part:

NO SCHOOL DISTRICT or community college district funds, services supplies or equipment SHALL BE USED FOR THE PURPOSE OF URGING THE SUPPORT OR DEFEAT OF ANY ballot measure or CANDIDATE, including, but not limited to, any candidate for election to the governing board of the district.

(1)

SECTION 7054(a) EXPRESSLY FORBIDS THE USE OF DISTRICT RESOURCES TO SUPPORT OR DEFEAT ANY CANDIDATE or ballot measure FOR OFFICE.

d. In simpler terms, the Education Code draws the line between permissible and impermissible use
of public funds:

(1)

DISTRICT RESOURCES USED TO ADVOCATE a measure or CANDIDATE(S), WHETHER THROUGH EXPRESS ADVOCACY OR IMPLICIT/SUGGESTIVE ADVOCACY, IS NOT PERMITTED.

j.

Can a school district make its facilities available under the Civic Center Act for political
activities?

(1)

Yes, so long as the facilities are made equally available to both the supporters and opponents of the political measure. A school district should not limit its facilities to only
those with its favored political viewpoints. ONCE A SCHOOL DISTRICT MAKES ITS FACILITI4ES AVAILABLE AS A FORUM FOR POLITICAL PURPOSES, EQUAL ACCESS MUST BE PROVIDED TO ALL COMPETING PARTIES OR GROUPS. (Educ. Code § 7058; Stanson, 17 Cal.3d at 219.)

(2)

Note: Use of district facilities as a political forum should be consistent with the requirements of the Civic Center Act, as well as board policies and regulations addressing
this issue.

k. Can board members or district officials be held PERSONALLY LIABLE for authorizing an improper
campaign expenditure?

(1)

Public officials must use “due care” (i.e., reasonable diligence) in authorizing the expenditure of public funds and MAY BE HELD PERSONALLY LIABLE for improper expenditures
that are made without such due care.

(3)

Violations are punishable as a misdemeanor or felony or by a fine up to $1,000, or both.
(Educ. Code § 7054(c).)

5. What Can You Do to Inform the Electorate and What are Your Responsibilities?

e. Remember: DISTRICT RESOURCES MAY NOT BE USED IN ANY CIRCUMSTANCES TO URGE THE SUPPORT OR DEFEAT OF ANY ballot measure or CANDIDATE FOR ELECTED OFFICE. However, district resources may be used under limited circumstances to provide fair and impartial information on the effects of a ballot measure where the intended purpose is to aid the public in making its own informed decision on
the measure.