Jeff Smith noon, Nov. 25
Grand Jury finds San Diego Unified School District's website too political
Grand Jury report says San Diego Unified had political messages on website. District officials blame insufficient staffing.
San Diego Unified School District's website is meant to educate and inform the public of its policies not its politics. It's the latter that has caught the attention of the San Diego County Grand Jury in a new report released on May 7.
The investigation began after a citizen lodged a complaint about the political promotions listed on the district's website for the November 2012 elections, including sample letters along with contact information for elected officials, as well as a report in favor of legislation from Assemblymember Marty Block that provides districts more flexibility when looking to sell surplus property.
The political endorsements, found the Grand Jury, is in direct violation of the state's Education Code-7054 which prohibits school districts from using any "funds, services, supplies, or equipment...for the purpose of urging the support or defeat of any ballot measure or candidate."
School board president John Lee Evans also came under fire in the report for using his district email address to rally other board members throughout the County to join together for a press conference in support of two statewide tax initiatives, as reported in an October 17 article in the UT-San Diego.
In response to the Grand Jury, officials from San Diego Unified blamed the political peddling on insufficient staffing. "The Grand Jury was told the school district does not have sufficient personnel to control and review all information that is put on the SDUSD district-owned or local school-owned websites. The Communications Department has a staff of four full-time and one part-time employee.
"The Grand Jury found that approximately 4,320 individuals have access to various sections of the SDUSD website and can post and change information on it. Individual schools have their own website servers with content supposedly monitored by the school principal."
The Grand Jury is recommending that the district remove all politics from its website as well as ensure closer monitoring. The district has until the end of the year to comply.
Click here to read the entire Grand Jury report:
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