The electioneering season is here, and its arrival has prompted two Johnson County school districts to issue notices clarifying the intent of letters they’d sent to legislators in recent month.
On Tuesday, the Shawnee Mission School District issued a statement stating explicitly that it does not endorse candidates:
It is important to note that the Shawnee Mission School District does not endorse candidates, and the board of education has adopted policies regarding political activities.
School district officials communicate with elected officials in advocacy-related efforts regarding issues that impact the school district and its students. However, any attempt to convey endorsement by the school district of a specific candidate for office would be inaccurate and inappropriate.
That move comes in apparent response to candidate mailers which have used language from a form letter the district sent to legislators after the vote on a temporary school finance fix this summer. Shawnee Rep. Brett Hildabrand, for example, recently sent this mailer, saying that he was “standing with our schools” and copying part of Hinson’s letter to legislators:
Shawnee Mission’s move to issue the statement comes days after a similar situation in Blue Valley, where incumbent Sen. Jeff Melcher tweeted out a photo of a similar form letter from Superintendent Todd White:
Blue Valley Superintendent thanks Jeff Melcher for his legislative work. pic.twitter.com/9ZqAmgWFHJ
— Jeff Melcher (@jeffmelcher) July 7, 2016
That prompted the Blue Valley district to issue a statement clarifying that its letter should not be construed as an endorsement: