Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has sued Denison Independent School District (“ISD”) and Castleberry ISD for illegally using official resources to promote certain political candidates and policies. 

Earlier this month, Denison ISD’s official website expressed its support or opposition for certain political candidates and stumped for its preferred policy agenda. Additionally, Denison ISD posted a resolution adopted by its Board of Trustees further endorsing certain political measures. Similarly, the Castleberry ISD Superintendent used her official email to send out an endorsement list of political candidates and instructed the district’s administration to “vote accordingly.” 

These actions constitute illegal electioneering as Texas law strictly forbids publicly funded educational institutions and personnel from using official resources to promote political agendas. Although the Office of the Attorney General is not currently able to criminally prosecute Election Code violations following the Court of Criminal Appeals’ decision in Texas v. Stephens, the OAG may nonetheless seek civil injunctive relief to attain a court order prohibiting school districts from engaging in unlawful attempts to influence elections. Further, illegal electioneering is criminal conduct and while the OAG is unable to prosecute at this time violators could be subject to criminal prosecution by local authorities. 

These lawsuits are part of an ongoing effort by Attorney General Paxton to ensure that Texas elections are not illegally swayed by public officials improperly using state resources. Recently, both Frisco ISD and Denton ISD were also sued for violating electioneering prohibitions. 

“I am extremely troubled by this pattern of government officials engaged in illegal electioneering. These are government employees charged with the education of our children. They must respect our laws,” said Attorney General Paxton. “I will continue to use every legal remedy available to me to stop this unlawful conduct. Elections are the foundation of our republic. They must be free and fair.”

Read the Denison ISD filing here and the Castleberry ISD filing here.