Election Guidelines for Public School Employees
As a district employee, you maintain your constitutional rights to engage in political activity and to express your political views. However, this is a reminder that, as a public employee there, are legal limitations on engaging in political activities while on the job. Please review the guidelines below so you will know what you may and may not do regarding political activities.
- Provide information (written and oral) about the details of school-related propositions and the effect on your schools and district if a proposition passes or fails.
- On your own time, (lunch or after normal hours) solicit money for a political campaign.
- Choose, as an individual, to wear buttons expressing support or opposition to an issue as long as the button-wearing was not organized by the district and does not disrupt the educational process.
- Carry or display political material in or on privately-owned vehicles.
- Remind people of election date/dateline.
- Refer individuals to voters’ registration information and urge unregistered voters to register.
- Allow political groups to use school facilities for meetings. Groups should apply through normal channels to use buildings, and pro and con groups must be allowed equal access.
- Provide mailing labels and other public records to political groups; if done routinely and exactly alike with all requestors.
You may not…
- Oppose or promote an election issue during classroom discussions.
- Use students to distribute or promote materials that support or oppose a measure. (This includes having students carrying home parent group newsletters that support or oppose a ballot issue.)
- Use any school equipment, building, supplies, employee work time and district communications (e-mail, inter-school mail, U.S, mail facilities, internal memoranda, telephones) to promote or oppose an issue even outside the workday.
- Display on school district property and provide any data that would coerce, pressure, or present undue influence for employees to participate in a political activity or to take a particular position.
- Publicize meetings of groups which support or oppose political issues.
- Carry or display political material in or on publicly-owned vehicles.
- Do the above or any other activities that are outside the normal conduct of operations which would promote or oppose a ballot issue.
Legal References for Political Activity in Public Schools
- RCW 42.14A.555 “...(No) person appointed to or employed by any public office or agency may use or authorize the use of any of the facilities of a public office or agency, directly or indirectly, for the purpose of assisting a campaign for election of any person to any office or for the promotion or opposition to any ballot proposition. Facilities of a public office or agency include, but are not limited to, use of stationary, postage, machines, and equipments, use of employees of the office agency during working hours, vehicles, office space, publications of the office or agency, and clientele lists of persons served by the office or agency”
- WAC 390.05.271 “RCW 42.17A.555 does not restrict the right of any individual to express his or her own personal views concerning supporting, or opposing any candidate or ballot proposition, if such expression does not involve a use of the facilities of a public office or agency”
- Public Disclosure Commission Guidelines for Local Government Agencies in Election Campaigns The PDC is the enforcement agency for violations of campaign activities by governmental entities. The full text of the guidelines document is available at: https://www.pdc.wa.gov/learn/guidelines-local-governments.
- School districts are charged with education and instilling civic awareness; and
- School district employees do not forfeit their rights to engage in political activity because
of their employment. Neither may district employees be subjected to coercion, pressure
or undue influence to participate in political activity or to take a particular position. Public
officials and employees should make it clear that any participation is personal rather than
- VEA Comprehensive Professional Agreement Article 9.2 “ Educators will be entitled to full rights of citizenship, and no religious or political activities of any educator or the lack thereof will be grounds for adverse action with respect to the professional employment of the educator, providing such activities are not violative of the law.”
- Protection of Pupil Rights Act, 20 U.S.C. 1232h: 34 CFR Part 98 This federal law prohibits students from being required to participate in any survey that reveals information of political affiliation of the student of student’s parents.