Candidate says school district election had rules violation
A week has passed since the Lake Tahoe Unified School District Board of Education election but campaign tactics are still being questioned.
Sue Novasel, who ran in the Nov. 2 election but missed filling the third seat by less than 500 votes, asked the newly elected board members to apologize to the district for violating board policy in their campaign tactics.
Speaking in public comment session at Tuesday’s school board meeting, Novasel said political literature recommending Sue Yang, Bernadette Santana and Lennie Schwartz was distributed on the South Tahoe High School campus the weekend before the election – despite specific district policy against it.
Board Policy 1325 (a) reads:
“Campaign materials shall not be distributed on district property at any time other than at a forum in which candidates or advocates from all sides are presenting their views to the students during school hours, or during events scheduled pursuant to the Civic Center Act.”
Novasel admitted that she had violated the policy early in her campaign but stopped after she received a letter from Superintendent Rich Alexander on Oct. 22.
Alexander said the letter was mailed to all candidates as a reminder of the policy.
Schwartz said he had no idea that the literature was being distributed until after the fact.
“It was never authorized,” he said. “And the flyer had no persons taking responsibility for it – I don’t know who did it.”
Novasel said the letter was tagged to windshields of cars parked in the high school lot during a Saturday football game. It endorsed the three candidates who were recommended by the South Tahoe Educators’ Association, the union that represents the 286 teachers in the district.
But Educators’ Association President Mike Patterson said it wasn’t the work of the teachers’ union.
“The association never distributed political information on school property. Anything we distribute has our name on it,” he said. “I honestly don’t know what (Novasel) was going on about – it sounds like sour grapes to me.”
Superintendent Alexander said the board policy is based on the state education code and, therefore, is supported by state law.
“If I were given specific names and an eyewitness account, I would be reporting this to the state,” he said. “But at this point, I don’t have that.”
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