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Staffers Will Be Disciplined Over Pro-tax Signs In Seminole Schools

ed riordan, seminole county news, news seminole county, seminole county post, seminole county school district, seminole county schools tax, orlando sentinel, orlando sentinel seminole county,

From the Orlando Sentinel --

 

Seminole's school superintendent has vowed disciplinary action after several staffers violated district policy and possibly state law by giving out political signs supporting a sales-tax referendum in May. Some residents have complained the school district tipped the scales in favor of the tax, which ultimately passed. A quarter of the penny tax will go to schools for construction projects during the next 10 years.

 

Employees should have known better, said Grant Maloy, a former Seminole commissioner. "This is the third campaign they have had in four years," he said. "They were cheating on an election."

 

Superintendent Walt Griffin said mistakes were made and that he doesn't want it to happen again.

 

"I am truly disappointed these incidents occurred and take these matters very seriously," he said. "Those with egregious violations will be disciplined, and additional training will be mandated for all principals and directors." District policy prohibits distribution of campaign materials on campus, as well as participation of school employees in political activities while on duty. State law prohibits governments and their employees from giving out election materials that take a particular position.

 

Seminole's problems have Orange County's school officials paying attention. That's because voters on Aug. 26 will decide whether to renew a half-penny sales tax to fund school construction. In May, district attorney Woody Rodriguez sent a memo to all principals, reminding them that campaigning on campuses is prohibited in nearly all circumstances.

 

In addition, any election-related messages or emails are expected to need approval by his department. "I used Seminole as an example to principals in training this summer. You can't send an email to parents saying, 'Support the tax,'" Rodriguez said.

 

In Seminole, a Winter Springs tax opponent named Ed Riordan decided to test his theory a week before the May 20 vote that the schools were directly supporting the tax.

 

"On a whim, I decided to stop by a school to see if it would be this blatant," Riordan said in an interview. He said he visited seven schools and was able to pick up signs that read "Vote Yes for The One Cent!" at four of them: Jackson Heights Middle, Lawton Elementary, Lake Howell High and Oviedo High.....MORE HERE.

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