Several reports were received of Pitman High School staff distributing political flyers in the teacher mail boxes on school grounds and time.
The flyer was for a September 21st “meet the candidates night” held by Councilman Kurt Spycher for Turlock Unified School District (TUSD) Board of Trustees Candidates Josh Bernard, Bob Weaver, and Lori Crivelli.
This was immediately made an issue by some because all three listed candidates were new, leaving out the incubments.
Kurt Spycher explained that a lot of people were asking about what the new candidates were about so he decided to just open up his house to his neighbors, friends, and anyone who was interested in meeting the candidates. The event was even posted as an open Facebook invitation to “Meet the TUSD Candidates.”
After the Pitman flyer gave the perspective of supporting new candidates versus incumbents, Spycher invited all the candidates.
“After seeing how that could look, it was an easy fix… I invited all the candidates,” said Spycher.
All TUSD School Board Candidates (Incumbents Timm LaVelle, Tami Muniz, Felica D. Renshaw and new candidates Bob Weaver, Lori Crivelli, Josh Bernard) accepted the invitation to the Spycher’s meet the candidates night.
What Kurt Spycher was doing and the event are not the issue here.
The issue here is how the TUSD School District is handling the illegal action of staff politicking on school grounds and/or time.
The action of passing out the political flyers suggesting support for the new candidates or opposition for the incumbents wouldn’t have even been that much of an issue because it happens and the consequences would be confidential as it’s a personnel issue.
TurlockCityNews.com did not receive a response to questions asked from any TUSD Administration or Trustee Members confirming that there was a flyer, what the flyer stated, how it was distributed, and by whom.
Rod Hollars, Pitman High School Principal, said “I was made aware of the presence of a flyer announcing a "meet the candidates night" that appeared on campus. I looked into it immediately, made it clear this was an unacceptable practice and that it was not to take place again. It has not.”
TurlockCityNews.com never received a response directly from TUSD Superintendent Dr. Sonny H. Da Marto, while Administrative Assistant Roberta Cheney relayed phone and email messages back and forth over about a week’s time.
Cheney’s email response to questions sent to Superintendent Dr. Da Marto stated:
“The District is aware of one incident with respect to this Policy. The issue has been addressed and because it is a personnel matter I can not comment further.
The District does not comment on personnel matters and follows the Board Policy regarding campaigns.
No district funds, services, supplies or equipment shall be used to urge the support or defeat of any ballot measure or candidate, including any candidate for election to the Board. (Education Code 7054)
District resources shall not be used to disseminate campaign literature or to purchase advertisements, bumper stickers, posters or similar promotional items that advocate an election result.”
To even further the lack of transparency and responsibility to communicate with TUSD’s constituents, Administrative Assistant Roberta Cheney sent another emails stating:
“This serves as a response to your questions from the entire District, including the Board of Trustees and the Superintendent. Thank you for your patience.”
Under Community Relations, a TUSD manual states:
“No staff member shall communicate or distribute any notice relating to, other than school matters, without first obtaining the superintendent’s permission.”
Superintendent Dr. Sonny Da Marto, or his Administrative Assistant, did not respond to follow up/repeated questions regarding the political flyer’s distribution and his role in the distribution of the political flyer.
* TurlockCityNews.com always leaves phone and email messages with the heads-up of what the questions are in regards to as we never try to “catch someone in their words” but rather work to communicate what they mean. What people communicate (or don’t communicate) is between them and the public.