Guide to Kyrene Employees' Political Activity
Arizona Revised Statutes section 15-511 (A.R.S. §15-511) prohibits school districts from using school resources to influence the outcome of an election. Kyrene employees have the right to be involved in politics as private citizens on their own personal time; however, while they are on duty, they cannot encourage people to vote one way or another, or use district resources to do so. It is imperative that campaigning and advocacy efforts on behalf of specific candidates, ballot measures, bonds and overrides by school board members and public school employees stay within the bounds of the law.
The following are a few “CAN” and “CANNOT” items regarding political activity for Kyrene employees:
KYRENE EMPLOYEES CAN:
Individual board members or school employees not on school time may exercise their free speech rights and get involved in campaigns, including the following:
- Sign petitions
- Make campaign contributions
- Circulate petitions, solicit contributions, wear buttons/t-shirts, or engage in other campaign activities in their private capacity
- Put bumper-stickers on their cars (even if they park on school property)
- Receive campaign information in school district email accounts and mailboxes from an outside (non-school) sender. However, such information cannot be passed on to others – including outside recipients – from a school email account.
- Exercise their free speech rights (politicking, including flyer distribution) at an event in which the public at-large is welcome, providing that all groups are welcome to engage in such activity and it is consistent with district policy for such activity
- Answer questions from a factual perspective on the impact to the school district depending on the election’s outcome
KYRENE EMPLOYEES CANNOT:
Individual board members or school employees cannot:
- Make statements or submit arguments in favor of, or in opposition to, a ballot measure in an “official capacity” or on behalf of the District
- Participate during school time in activities that would influence an election
- Use school property including equipment, paper, copiers, buildings, computers, etc. to influence an election
- Give students campaign material intended to influence an election or material intended to influence the outcome of legislation. Because this is an area of the law with special emphasis, the best practice is to avoid children taking home any material that might be deemed political.
- Send or forward emails encouraging people to vote for or against a candidate or ballot proposition using Kyrene email.
- Circulate petitions, solicit contributions, wear buttons/t-shirts or engage in other campaign activity while on duty or while in a classroom (even if off-duty).
SCHOOL DISTRICTS CAN:
- Inform parents and community members how to register to vote, remind them of election days, and encourage them to vote, as long as there is no attempt to say how to vote.
- Allow outside groups, including parent organizations, to use school buildings to hold meetings in support of a campaign, providing those groups lease the facilities in the manner any other group would be allowed to lease.
SCHOOL DISTRICTS CANNOT:
- Expend funds for membership in an organization that attempts to influence the outcome of an election.
- Post campaign signs or distribute campaign literature in District buildings.