Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton on Wednesday sent cease and desist letters to three Texas school districts — Brazosport, Holliday and Lewisville — which he said are illegally using school resources to advocate for certain political candidates and measures.
“My office fully encourages Texas schools to educate their students on civic duties and assist them in registering to vote. But pushing faculty or others to vote for a particular person is a clear violation of the Texas Election and Education Codes,” Paxton said in a news release.
Paxton’s letters to school districts included screenshots of tweets from school district officials. One shows Brazosport superintendent Danny Massey tweeting his support of Scott Milder, who is running against Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick in the Republican primaries. Milder, co-founder of Friends of Texas Public Schools, has garnered large support from teacher groups.
Paxton’s letters came as teacher groups have fallen under the scrutiny of conservative organizations and state leaders for get-out-the-vote tactics.
The concerns led state Sen. Paul Bettencourt, R-Houston, in December to ask Paxton to weigh in on the legality of the practices of one group, Texas Educators Vote, and participating school districts including Austin, Eanes, Del Valle and Pflugerville.
Bettencourt specifically asked whether school districts can use public money to electioneer and to bus students and teachers to polling places for the March primaries.
Paxton said both practices are illegal.
Teacher groups that promote voting have denied illegal politicking in school districts and have accused conservative groups and lawmakers of trying to intimidate teachers to keep them from voting. Some teachers unions and teacher voting groups have indicated they do not support Patrick, who has been a leading advocate for measures that would subsidize private school tuition and restrict teacher unions.