In the midst of early voting on its $663.1 million all-or-nothing bond package, the Arlington school district found itself accused of violating the Texas Election Code.
Members of a political action committee opposed to the bond — “It’s OK to Vote No, Arlington” — hauled school representatives before a judge on Monday over concerns stemming from a series of Facebook posts by a pro-bond booster.
The suit alleged that Tara Zang Gray, an alumna of Arlington High School, used social media to promote a Tuesday pep rally at AHS athletics field in support of the bond .
Gray is not an employee of the district. As a private citizen, her endorsement of the bond and promotion of the gathering in its favor are entirely permissible.
But in elections, school districts must be aggressively neutral.
So it wasn’t Gray’s posts per se that ruffled the feathers of the anti-bond PAC’s founder, Faith Bussey.
Instead, the PAC claimed that the rally’s intended location, the football field at AHS, violated state election law.
The lawsuit alleged that in failing to adequately extinguish the pro-bond rally, the AISD had authorized “unnamed individuals to use school property for a pep rally supporting the bond package, providing support for the event in various ways,” including “contributions” provided through the use of school property, like free rental space, utilities and insurance.
On Monday, District Judge David Evans denied the temporary restraining order requested by Bussey and her PAC, for lack of sufficient evidence that the district was behind the rally. And Bussey clearly saw the writing on the wall when she dropped her suit during a hearing on Tuesday.
The PAC’s last-minute attempt to kill the bond package seems desperate.
But bond proponents, however well-intended, were imprudent in planning to hold a rally on school property.
Bussey’s suit distracted attention from the merits of the bond. Now that the legal wrangling is over, district residents should return to the merits of the bond and the importance of supporting local schools.