State DOE to school boards: Can’t use local resources to fight Opportunity School District. Is it a gag order?

A new bill offers a milder version of the defeated Opportunity School but it still seems superfluous.

Local school leaders received an advisory letter from the state Department of Education on their lobbying efforts for or against the governor’s Opportunity School District. The email went out late Tuesday afternoon.

From my reading, school boards can pass resolutions, as dozens have done, against the Opportunity School District, but they cannot use tax dollars to fight it. School board members are elected and thus not as restrained in their comments as state workers.

The person who shared the letter with me wrote: “Further evidence that Deal is ‘running scared.’  Check out the gag order on locals. Quite interesting considering the fact that Deal’s state Board of Education also issued a statement regarding Amendment 1.” (The state school board endorsed the OSD.)

One question about this: Many charter schools have bused students to the Capitol for pro school choice rallies. Is that legal as it clearly entails resources — staff time to supervise the kids and transportation — to bring students to downtown Atlanta for the day?

Wondering about that after reading this. What do you think? And will this letter have a chilling effect on school board efforts to stop the OSD from passing in November?

Dear Superintendents and RESA Directors,

I am writing in response to several questions about the issue of school boards or other local educational entities using public resources to advocate or oppose constitutional amendments.

The Georgia Office of the Attorney General (AG) addressed this issue in a 2012 letter to the Georgia Department of Education. Below is the guidance given by the AG’s Office at that time:

“Local school boards do not have the legal authority to expend funds or other resources to advocate or oppose the ratification of a constitutional amendment by the voters. They may not do this directly or indirectly through associations to which they may belong. Counties may not use their resources to persuade voters to support or oppose a ballot question. Such electoral advocacy to voters is not permitted as an exercise of the general power to administer county government or otherwise.”

Per the AG’s Office, Georgia law also provides that local government entities, including county school boards and charter schools, may not expend local funds or resources on electoral advocacy.

If you have questions or concerns about what qualifies as a permissible use of local funds, please contact your local school board attorney.

As always, thank you for the excellent work you are doing on behalf of Georgia’s students.

Sincerely,

Garry McGiboney, Ph.D

Deputy Superintendent – External Affairs and Policy

Georgia Department of Education

For 7 things to know about Gov. Nathan Deal’s Opportunity School District, go here.

 

 

Reader Comments 0

53 comments
MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

When I first read this thread, I perceived, immediately, that there was being issued a "veiled threat" by the state of Georgia to educators throughout Georgia, indicating by implication that they should not show support against this amendment, or else. 

That is how I first perceived truth to be, in this particular case.
 That is not how a democratic-republic should operate, imo.

Astropig
Astropig

@MaryElizabethSings



You're intentionally misrepresenting the issue here (but it is happy hour,so there's that).


The state is simply saying that these locals can't use state allocated funds to advocate for or against this.The governor can,because he was given the power to set policy and undertake public policy initiatives.Democrat governors have done what Deal is doing,so this is just a nonsense argument by political sore losers.


And I hope that this is not a "veiled" threat.I hope it is overt and unequivocal.When I lived and worked in Alabama,back when teachers essentially ran the state,they used paid time to politick,make and distribute signs and advocate for their pet causes.A lot of people like myself thought that it was wrong and anti-democratic.My heart soared when I read that Georgia won't allow this sort of crude,banana republic abuse of public resources.


By the way- "gag orders" are what judges issue.The state DOE cannot prohibit public workers from speaking or acting on private time,with their own funds.The headline is intentionally inflammatory.

Richard Cionci
Richard Cionci

But it is ok for the Governor to use classrooms as backdrops in his television commercials.

frogg
frogg

Ah...but they can use PTA funds. 


Astropig
Astropig

@frogg


Right-o.Using money that was raised in the name of "the children" for other purposes (especially political ones) comes easy for the eduacracy.

AvgGeorgian
AvgGeorgian

Is it OK to talk about Graduation Achievement High School that is in Governor Deal's current state run school district - the Governor appointed State Charter Commission School District?


This state run high school has a 7.7% graduation rate, a 41 CCRPI (F) and has been failing for 6 years under the Governor appointed Commissioners.


It hides all spending and hiring from taxpayers and continuously fails to meet its charter goals.


This is the test case for the OSD.


Why are we spending million$ on a 1,500 student high school that is chronically failing  and has no financial or academic accountability?

AvgGeorgian
AvgGeorgian

Pig, Dawg, Daks, Whatever other name EduKtr is going by these days, anyone? Can you please defend Deal's Current OSD project?

AvgGeorgian
AvgGeorgian

@Astropig @AvgGeorgian

So you are okay with the millions of dollar$ spent on the current failing state run school system that has no financial or academic accountability?

How much DO you stand to make off the OSD?

JBBrown1968
JBBrown1968

@AvgGeorgian The pig and rest aren't interested in debate or facts. They also admire Hitler...he was in the party in charge!


Astropig
Astropig

Good. Using state funds to advocate one political position or another is what happens in banana republics.Kudos to the DOE for making this clear.Anyone caught doing this now can't say that they were not advised.

AvgGeorgian
AvgGeorgian

@Astropig Evenin' Astro. Haha. The Governor basically appointing Sam Olens to the KSU presidency is what happens in banana republics.

Astropig
Astropig

@AvgGeorgian @Astropig


The Board Of Regents appointed him.Other than getting basic facts wrong,you're correct.


I know your side doesn't like it,but the fact is,the voters kicked you out about 14 years ago and until you start acting like a responsible political party,you'll stay out. Sorry,but that's the way it is.

AvgGeorgian
AvgGeorgian

@Astropig @AvgGeorgian Don't pretend the guv didn't tell the BOR what to do "or get fired". Banana republic all the way. Do we only have an executive branch in GA? 

L_D
L_D

@Astropig 
So, by this logic, then the Governor, State School Board, and any state legislature should be silent on the issue, too.

Astropig
Astropig

@L_D @Astropig


Nope. Bad logic. This is a legislative and executive initiative that will go before the voters.The legislators aren't spending any money on this and the governor has received support from advocates of better education.Their money is donated.Part of being the governor is making his case for his initiatives.I guess you'd call that one of the perks.


Anyway, typically,what happens is the local school staffs use copy paper,their (paid) time and other property of the school system and hand out flyers,send home letters and generally politick on the clock. When they're caught and called on it,they excuse themselves by saying that no one told them that such things were impermissible or illegal.(Beg for forgiveness/ask for permission). The brouhaha usually gets forgotten after the votes are counted and the result is that the eduacracy gets an unfair advantage in the issue.


Glad you asked!

AvgGeorgian
AvgGeorgian

@Astropig @AvgGeorgian

How 'bout this one-


"It was also Teague, along with Chief of Staff Chris Riley, who called and texted LaBerge in the week before the ethics commission considered the cases against Deal’s campaign. LaBerge claimed in a July 2012 memo that Teague and Riley “pressured” her and “threatened” the agency if the cases weren’t settled to Deal’s liking.

A week later, the commission voted to dismiss major complaints against the governor, who paid $3,350 in fees for minor defects in his campaign reports." http://www.myajc.com/news/news/state-regional-govt-politics/georgia-ethics-commission-fires-director-after-jud/nhH85/

Astropig
Astropig

@AvgGeorgian @Astropig


Sorry, you've got nothing here.Just a few political opponents throwing stuff at the wall. Yawn.


Enjoy your nightly trip to the gutter.I'm done with you until you got something worthwhile.

AvgGeorgian
AvgGeorgian

@Astropig @L_D So the legislative and executive branch can use all the time, money, and materials they want to promote or fight against legislation, but no other government(state or local - the state does not pay the salaries of all school system employees) employee in the state can do that? Please cite that law.

dg417s
dg417s

@Astropig @L_D Wait, so the Governor can use state resources to create a webpage that is clearly in favor of passage of the amendment but local governments that have a lot to lose cannot?

AvgGeorgian
AvgGeorgian

@Astropig @AvgGeorgian You votin' for the Trumpster? He like you has the "best ideas". If you have the "best ideas" you don't need no stinkin' logic.

Wascatlady
Wascatlady

@Astropig But it is fine to spend the taxpayer money and school time busing the kids to Atlanta for the photo op?

AJCkrtk
AJCkrtk

 NOTE: we understand this letter and advice was given to the school boards after the State Board passed its resolution.  Since then, several additional boards have passed resolutions.  Good for them, as a DeKalb Board Member said recently:  "You must stand for something or you'll fall for anything!"  Good on those school boards for not falling for Deal's lies and rhetoric.

AJCkrtk
AJCkrtk

 Could you stop referring to people to the "7 things to know about the OSD" article?  It incorrectly indicates that the score of 60 on the CCPRI is in the OSD legislation and IT IS NOT!  All that is there is that the Governor will assign letter grades A through F, and schools with Fs can make the list . What constitutes an "F" is up to the Governor.  He can change it WITHOUT getting further okay from the legislators.  AND he is already assigning letter grades - even though the law allowing him to do that has not yet passed.  Perhaps he should try following the LAW.  Maybe we should ask the AG?

AJCkrtk
AJCkrtk

Did the State Board of Education use public funds to pass their resolution supporting the OSD?

redweather
redweather

I would think busing charter school kids to the State Capitol can be considered a field trip. 

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

Also, please read John Richard Doe's link from the last thread to broaden your understanding of what is occurring politically in our nation re: Educational Change.

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

Read Jane Mayers' book, "Dark Money" to understand WHY public "government" schools have been so maligned in the past few decades.

FredinDeKalb
FredinDeKalb

I see this as being consistent.  Though they may support it, School Boards cannot advocate for SPLOST passage however can provide information to help citizens.

I could see School Boards providing information in a similar means for citizens to help them understand the issues, as long as it is balanced.

Mr_B
Mr_B

And yet it seem to be perfectly permissible to use use state funds to steal control of local schools from local voters.

Annette Laing
Annette Laing

Of course it is. Why is Georgia even bothering to try to keep the brightest students in the state? It's obvious they're not wanted.

Tom Green
Tom Green

Wow...so much for OSD increasing local input. Deal must be getting desperate; at least his true colors are shining through.

daks_
daks_

The idea that administrators who have failed our children would use tax dollars to fight education reform is repugnant.

Vote YES on Amendment 1

L_D
L_D

@daks_ This is not a reform.  There is nothing in the legislation requiring the schools taken over to actual improve their performance.  There are already 3 laws that allow state intervention in local schools that do not take possession of local tax dollars or local facilities.  This amendment diminishes the power of citizens' voice and vote.

WWTJD
WWTJD

Perverse thinking.  First Amendment Defenders?  Anyone?  Local Government is the best government? Anyone?  

Astropig
Astropig

@WWTJD


How on earth are their first amendment rights being infringed? They're free to say anything they like (as private citizens) and the press is free to print it and the half dozen or so people in Georgia that still read newspapers are free to read it.They just don't get to do it as agents of the governmental body of which they are members.Doing that gags people that may be in favor of it by giving the "anti" side the advantage of public funds.



AvgGeorgian
AvgGeorgian

@Astropig @WWTJD So Deal can, as a taxpayer paid employee, spend hours, days, constantly pushing the OSD but a taxpayer paid school system employee can't?

Astropig
Astropig

@Wascatlady @Astropig @AvgGeorgian @WWTJD


Tell you what-The next time a Democrat is elected governor,you start the movement to abolish this system of appointing people to this or that job.Put it in the hands of whomever is NOT governor.I'll join you and support your fight.I'll be right there at the ramparts with you.