(TSA Executive Director HD Chambers sent the following message to TSA member districts on Monday, March 4, after several districts across Texas were sued by the Texas Attorney General over allegations that they used district resources for electioneering.)

March 4, 2024

Over the past couple of weeks, the Texas Attorney General has taken legal action against several Texas school districts based on allegations that some district employees are improperly using district resources to engage in the election process.

TSA has made clear throughout this election season that school districts should encourage all citizens to vote in the primary elections but not advocate for any party, candidate, or measure. We have proactively encouraged voting because we know that, historically, only a small number of Texans participate in primary elections. In fact, fewer than one in five registered voters cast a ballot in the March 2022 primaries. Plus, the state expects us to educate students about the importance of voting. The TEKS require schools to teach that voting is a characteristic of good citizenship, and state law calls on every high school to offer registration forms twice a year to students at or near voting age. 

When certain school employees use district resources to advocate for candidates or parties — rather than the act of voting — those mistakes should be corrected quickly, and district leaders should address the issue with the employees involved. No superintendent or trustee wants an employee to use district resources improperly. 

Still, we cannot allow the Attorney General’s aggressive efforts to spotlight instances of wrongdoing to have a chilling effect on all educators. Some districts have reported that the Attorney General has sued them without contacting them first. This suggests that these lawsuits are more about silencing educators than ensuring compliance with the law. School districts have every right to encourage constituents to participate in our electoral process. In fact, promoting active citizenship is our obligation as educators. 

Educators should not be intimidated. We should continue to encourage all citizens to exercise their right to vote. Further, we have full confidence in Texas school districts to respect and uphold the laws around advocacy while also promoting the very civic engagement upon which our system of governance relies. School districts also have every right to highlight the inarguable fact that decisions made by legislators and other elected officials directly impact the education that we are able to provide. 

In other words, be smart, but do not be silenced. The right to vote is sacred, and encouraging others to vote is an act of patriotism. By encouraging all citizens to make their voices heard, we serve our communities and honor a fundamental principle of this great country. 

Thank you for your service to Texas, and please let me know if you have any questions. 

HD Chambers
Executive Director