Resident questions Birdville trustee’s support of bond election

Posted Thursday, May. 02, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
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A recipient of a Birdville school board member’s personal email promoting passage of a $183.2 million bond package is questioning whether an ethical line was crossed.

Trustee Cary Hancock recently distributed an email in which he urges members of the Birdville High School basketball booster club to “take a look at the proposal if you have not already and be sure to get out and vote early FOR the proposed bond.”

Booster club President David Barnett said the email goes too far and violates the spirit of an ethics code that board members should remain neutral.

“Cary does know better and should know better,” Barnett said.

“To me, it’s an advocacy position. I’ve already told our booster club that we’re not going to take a position on the bond election.”

Voters are being asked to approve a $183.2 million bond package that would fund safety and security, new technology and other improvements throughout the district. Early voting continues through May 7, and the election is May 11.

In his email, Hancock wrote, “As you all are probably well aware, BISD has a proposed bond on the May 11 ballot. This proposal is very important for our schools, our kids and our community.”

In an interview, Hancock said that he was providing information and that he used his private email address and wrote the letter on his own time.

“We are just trying to make sure people know about the bond; I used my email to pass along information. I am not breaking any rules by using my private time to support the election,” Hancock said.

Joy Baskin, director of the legal division for the Texas Association of School Boards, said in an email that it is legal for board members to take positions on elections as long as they don’t use district resources.

The Texas Ethics Commission states that communications with even mostly factual information can violate the election code if there are slogans such as “do the right thing for our kids,” according to the Texas Association of School Boards web site.

The Birdville district posted a “rumor control” message on its Facebook page to give people the facts about the bond election.

Barnett, who said he opposes the bond package, said he had not campaigned against it but may “take up the cause.”

Elizabeth Campbell, 817-390-7696 Twitter: @fwstliz

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