San Antonio

NISD pressured employees, tracked votes during bond election, records show

SAN ANTONIO – Employees at a number of Northside Independent School District campuses have advised the KSAT 12 Defenders in current weeks that directors relentlessly pressured them to vote on a May bond measure, tracked whether or not they had cast a poll and in a single occasion threatened self-discipline in the event that they failed to take action.

“It’s truly just voter intimidation, which is incredibly illegal. And we felt seriously pressured as staff to have to go and vote, otherwise we were told we could potentially receive punishment,” stated one elementary college trainer, who requested that we name them “Alex.”

Alex stated employees at their college attended a meeting in April during which directors described the advantages of passing the $992 NISD school bond, which incorporates funds for the development of a brand new elementary college on the far West Side and can present greater than $645 million for district renovations and reconstruction.

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The bond handed during the May 7 election after garnering greater than 57 p.c assist of voters inside the district who cast a poll.

But the value of passage may very well be excessive.

Governor Greg Abbott introduced that very same day that the Texas Education Agency and Texas Attorney General have been investigating whether or not messaging despatched by an NISD principal to employees in April had violated state legislation.

The messages, which have been later shared on Twitter, included the declare that NISD Superintendent Dr. Brian Woods felt voter turnout for the final bond election amongst NISD workers dwelling within the district was unacceptable and that every one workers have been anticipated to vote for the bond.

In an announcement final month, a district spokesman confirmed the messaging was despatched by a campus principal in an April 18 publication, calling it a “miscommunication.”

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“This miscommunication was immediately addressed by the principal’s supervisor and the principal, a veteran and well-respected leader, took corrective action,” based on the assertion despatched by Barry Perez, NISD’s Executive Director of Communications. “The messaging provided to district staff was solely intended to encourage the goal of increasing staff participation in the voting process. This messaging was never intended to be coercive and immediate measures were taken to clarify and correct any messaging that may have been misrepresented, misinterpreted, or miscommunicated.”

But extra records obtained by the Defenders in current weeks reveal important particulars concerning the stress placed on NISD employees to cast a poll.

On April 27, simply days into the early voting interval, an elementary college principal advised employees through electronic mail they might get “jeans passes” in the event that they voted, writing, “To clarify, if the Bond does not pass, there is a possibility that the district will have to use Operational Funds to pay for improvements like roofs and AC. What does that mean? Potentially no raises for anyone in the near future.”

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The principal concluded the e-mail by stating it was not an endorsement to vote “yes” or “no” however was as a substitute written to boost consciousness about it.

A textual content message despatched by an elementary college vice-principal on April 29 knowledgeable workers the varsity’s principal had been advised who had already voted.

Records show Henderson Elementary School administration was monitoring what number of of its workers had early voted earlier than the May 7 election. (KSAT)

“It doesn’t show how you voted. Just date and time,” the textual content message reads.

A May 2 electronic mail despatched by the principal of Henderson Elementary School to employees, titled “Henderson Voting,” knowledgeable them that 12 individuals from the varsity had voted early and that those that had not may depart early, so long as “your kids (students) have been taken care of.”

Alex stated messaging they obtained was indicative of NISD central office employees making use of stress to campus leaders who then utilized stress to employees to vote.

“To have that on top of it, that added stress, especially during the end of the year, during STAAR. I mean, it wasn’t nice to have,” stated Alex, referring to statewide evaluation checks performed at Texas public colleges during elements of May.

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Reached for remark, Perez repeatedly requested for copies of the messaging offered to KSAT, which the Defenders declined handy over.

He stated he couldn’t present extra remark as a result of the district had ready a response to the TEA as a part of its investigation.

The Defenders have requested a replica of that formal response from each NISD and the TEA, however have to this point not heard again.

A TEA spokesman stated late final month the investigation was ongoing and no additional updates have been out there.

The Texas Election Code units out guidelines public workers should comply with relating to communication about voting gadgets. (KSAT)

The legal professional basic’s communications office didn’t reply to a number of requests looking for remark for this story.

The Texas Election Code allows public college workers to disseminate details about a selected measure being voted on, so long as “the communication does not advocate passage or defeat of the measure.”

Copyright 2022 by KSAT – All rights reserved.

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