Texas AG Ken Paxton sues Denison, Castleberry ISDs on illegal electioneering allegations

Attorney General Ken Paxton is suing two more North Texas school districts, alleging they used official resources to promote political candidates and policies, the attorney general’s office announced in a news release Thursday.

The Castleberry and Denison school districts are accused of illegal electioneering.

Castleberry Superintendent Renee Smith-Faulkner used her email from her school account to send out an endorsement list of political candidates and told the district’s administration to “vote accordingly,” the release says.

Denison used its website to display support or opposition for certain political candidates and “stumped for its preferred policy agenda,” the release says. The district also posted a resolution adopted by its school board, “further endorsing certain political measures.”

State law prohibits publicly funded educational institutions and officials from using resources to promote political agendas. While the Office of the Attorney General is unable to criminally prosecute election code violations, the office can seek a court order prohibiting school districts from “engaging in illegal attempts to influence elections,” according to the release.

“I am extremely troubled by this pattern of government officials engaged in illegal electioneering. These are government employees charged with the education of our children. They must respect our laws,” said Paxton in the release. “I will continue to use every legal remedy available to me to stop this unlawful conduct. Elections are the foundation of our republic. They must be free and fair.”

Both districts could not be immediately reached for comment Thursday.

On Feb. 22 Paxton sued Denton school district administrators who allegedly sent emails to employees, asking them to vote for Republican candidates who support public education. They also told workers to take time off from work to vote. The Frisco school district has also been sued.

The primary is Tuesday. Early voting ends Friday.