BY LINDA BENTLEY | NOVEMBER 3, 2010
BMES Principal Ellie Gaines flouting the law?
CCUSD – According to A.R.S. § 15-511, “A person acting on behalf of a school district or a person who aids another person acting on behalf of a school district shall not use school district or charter school personnel, equipment, materials, buildings or other resources for the purpose of influencing the outcomes of elections … Employees of a school district or charter school may not use the authority of their positions to influence the vote or political activities of any subordinate employee.”
Nonetheless, it appears Black Mountain Elementary School Principal Ellie Gaines is doing just that as evidenced by the back window of her Toyota Camry parked in the school’s parking lot.
On the heels of the Cactus Shadows International Baccalaureate Program’s “community forum,” to which only some legislative candidates were invited to “discuss education-related issues and legislation,” the district seems to be more brazen every election as it continues to go unpunished for campaign finance violations.
Although the governing board and administration entered into a consent agreement with the Maricopa County Attorney for a similar violation a couple of years ago, requiring the superintendent along with the seated and newly-elected board members to undergo training on the subject, no one has ever been held accountable, individually.
Statute provides, for each violation, a court-imposed civil penalty not to exceed five hundred dollars plus any amount of misused funds subtracted from the school district budget against a person who knowingly violates or a person who knowingly aids another person in violating this section. The individual determined to be in violation would be responsible for the payment of all penalties and misused funds. The law prohibits the use of school district funds or insurance payments to pay for penalties or misused funds.
A parent with students in the district said she was offended by the principal’s brazen campaigning on campus but feared retaliation against her children if she said anything and asked that her identity not be disclosed.
The picture of Gaines’ vehicle was forwarded to Maricopa County Campaign Finance Director Kristi Passarelli who did not respond by press time.