School district slapped for using taxpayer dollars to sway local voters

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TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. – School boards frequently make their opinions known to voters when it comes to tax increases, school choice and other issues. But typically they’re smart enough to word things in such a way to avoid violating campaign finance laws.

voteyesstarFor example, they don’t expressly say how bad school vouchers are, they just talk about all the supposed negative effects. They carefully lead the reader into making the desired conclusion.

The Traverse City Area Public Schools district last November dropped all nuance and expressly advocated that taxpayers pass a school bond proposal.

Via Interlochen Public Radio:

Traverse City Area Public Schools ran afoul of the Michigan Campaign Finance Act during the last election, according to a letter issued Thursday by the Secretary of State. It says a district mailer advocated a “yes” vote for a school bond proposal. The district is not allowed to do that with taxpayer funds and other resources.

“We didn’t intend to violate the act or mislead folks and I think I need to apologize to Mr. Gillman, to our parents and our staff and community for any confusion the mailer caused,” says TCAPS Superintendent Steve Cousins.

Former Grand Traverse County Commissioner Jason Gillman filed the complaint. He also has a separate lawsuit pending over an alleged open meetings violation by the district.

The district wanted a “yes” vote but voters ultimately said “no.” The Secretary of State determined the school district violated the Campaign Finance Act and the district superintendent apologized. Any further punishment is unlikely.


Originally posted at

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