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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:

http://www.sdcounty.ca.gov/grandjury/reports/2012-2013/San_Diego_City_School_Website.pdf

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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:

http://www.sdcounty.ca.gov/grandjury/reports/2012-2013/San_Diego_City_School_Website.pdf

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Comments
2

Anyone really surprised at this? The slobbering school district is a disgrace to the city and county. That it resorts to political appeals is expected. Many school districts do much the same thing with some subtlety and don't get caught. But the city schools are so inept that they cannot even engage in propaganda without attracting attention. So sad.

May 7, 2013

What does the school district care about a grand jury report? They'll have their (allegedly understaffed) communications department write a response in the name of the school board and continue to do whatever they want. This isn't the first time, either. The infamous Alan Bersin got flagged by the state fair campaign practices people after he shamelessly used every district communications tool he could get his hands on to promote Proposition MM in 1998, and I believe the district ultimately paid. The district also paid $10,000 to settle a separate suit on the same matter. But they ultimately don't care, whether it's Bersin, Kowba, Lee, or the new wunderkind superintendent who leaps into her new position in June. As for the communications department, I'd like to know how hard it would be for someone to scroll through the obvious places on its website once a week to look for inappropriate information. The idea that some low-level type could OR WOULD place sensitive political information on the website without approval from the superintendent's office is simply nonsense. The top-down management (and punishment) style exists unchanged from the days of Bersin and no employee in his or her right mind, unless they had just won Lotto, would attempt such a thing. Kowba might as well say that the now infamous Scripps Ranch YouTube video could be posted and sit on the website for weeks without anyone knowing. Ridiculous.

May 9, 2013

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