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Campaign Guidelines for Employees

With election season upon us, it’s time to review the limits the law puts on the use of District resources to support or oppose a particular candidate or ballot measure. You are always welcome to call HR  if you have questions. You can find our printable PDF here.  Or read CHRO Tim Erwin's memo below.  

 

With election season upon us, it’s time to review the limits the law puts on the use of District resources to support or oppose a particular candidate or ballot measure. You are always welcome to call me if you have questions. Here is what you need to know:

 

The Basic Rules Are Simple

 

  • You can advocate for or against a particular candidate or ballot measure during nonworking time – as long as you don’t use District resources.
  • You cannot advocate for or against candidates or ballot measures during work time.

 

The Details

 

What are “District Resources”?

The most obvious is money. But the term extends to all District services, supplies, and equipment as well. This includes big things like AUSD photocopiers, computers, phones, and e-mail systems, all the way down to small things like paper and pens.

 

Bottom line: AUSD property cannot be used to advocate for a particular ballot measure or candidate even after work time.

 

Can District employees endorse candidates?

Yes, you can endorse candidates, as long as the endorsement includes a qualification such as “title used for identification purposes only.”

 

What is “Work Time”?

It is measured by each employee’s particular working schedule. An employee may not advocate for a particular ballot measure or candidate during that employee’s specific working hours. The only exception is advocacy that takes place during lunch or other scheduled work breaks. Such breaks do not count as work time. Essentially, any time a person should be working for the District, that person should not be working for or against a particular ballot measure or candidate.

 

Working from Home Is Not an Exception

While working at home, it may take special care to remember to avoid political advocacy during work hours. But it is just as illegal to advocate for a candidate or a measure when you’re working at home during District work-time as it is when you’re working at a District facility.

 

What Does it Mean to “Advocate” for or against a Ballot Measure or Candidate?The law distinguishes between advocacy, which is out of bounds, and the provision of “impartial factual information,” which is permitted. Unfortunately, there is no clear rule differentiating information from advocacy. Instead, courts look at all of the facts and circumstances surrounding the interaction. So use discretion, and please feel free to contact me if you have questions or are uncertain.

Similarly, note that the law only limits the use of District resources to support a particular candidate. So District facilities may be used to host candidate forums or similar events as long as the event is open to all candidates.

 

What About Student Speech?

Students in California have strong free speech protections. They are allowed, for example, to advocate on behalf of a particular candidate before/after school or during lunch and in school-approved venues like school newspapers and bulletin boards. However, the prohibition on the use of District resources also generally applies to student speech. As such, with the exception of official newspapers and bulletin board use, students may not use school resources to create or distribute campaign materials. This includes the use of school photocopiers, computers, video equipment, etc.