Teacher used school’s e-mail account to back candidate, violated policy

A School District 51 teacher who sent an e-mail to other district employees promoting Rose Pugliese for school board unintentionally violated school district policy, according to district spokesman Jeff Kirtland.

District 51 employees are prohibited from using school district resources — in this case a school district e-mail account — to promote a candidate for school board or any other office.

Kirtland said he did not know how many District 51 employees received the e-mail endorsing Pugliese, but it went to more than one school, and it happened two to three weeks before the election.

Greg Mikolai defeated Pugliese in Tuesday’s election, claiming 54 percent of the votes, compared to Pugliese’s 46 percent.

School Board policy allows district employees to participate in political and candidate campaigns, just not during the work day. Kirtland said the teacher did not send the e-mail during class time.

Kirtland said he sends e-mails to district employees each election cycle to inform them of the rules, but that e-mails like the one this election cycle have crept up more often in recent election years. He said the board will try to emphasize that e-mails about candidates, even if sent to people not employed by the school district, are not acceptable when sent from school district accounts.

Employees who send e-mails about candidates are sent an e-mail explaining why the action was wrong and asking the person not to send similar e-mails in the future.

“Typically, when I get back to them, they’re very sorry and confused about the rules,” Kirtland said, adding that was the case with the teacher this time.


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