Yesterday, Jon DeStefano, head of the Jeffco Administrators Association, used his Jeffco school district email and district resources to send an email to the principals of all 157 Jefferson County Public Schools, to praise the fact that there are only two candidates running against the three school board incumbents up for reelection in the November school board race. In his email yesterday, Mr. DeStefano states that “This is very good news for Jefferson County Public Schools. The retention of a Board majority insures continued stability for our school district and support for our new superintendent, Dr. Jason Glass.”
Click to enlarge actual email.
This endorsement coming from a school district email, using school district resources surely violates the Colorado Fair Campaign Practices Act (FCPA). FCPA specifically states that “school materials and equipment such as paper, copy machines, computers, telephones, bulk mailing permits, e-mail, the “pony” intra-district mail system, etc. cannot be used under any circumstances to prepare, post, sort or distribute any materials or information expressing a position concerning an election matter.”
Why would Mr. DeStefano think it is okay to send an email such as this in support of the current school board? Is it a foregone conclusion that every school administrator in Jeffco public schools supported the recall and election of 5 union-endorsed candidates? Is it simply assumed that every school administrator is happy with the status-quo and academic results of the students in Jefferson County? And lest you argue that Jon DeStefano has no public position on the matter, let us set the record straight. Mr. DeStefano, a former Denver Teachers Union publication editor, former advertising manager for the Jeffco teachers union publication, and past board president of the Colorado Association of School Boards, was a strong and outspoken proponent and staunch supporter of the Jeffco school board recall of 2015. Mr. DeStefano was also embroiled in a recall effort just last year for his own position on the Platte Canyon school board. The group Parents and Citizens for Education in the Platte Canyon school district initiated the recall process.
Mr. DeStefano served on the Jeffco school board in the early nineties and again in the late nineties and was a member of the board that hired Cindy Stevenson. Having run a number of school board campaigns, one would think Mr. DeStefano is very familiar with the campaign laws. Did he intend to send an email encouraging support for Mr. Mitchell and his compatriots? How many other times has Mr. DeStefano or others used district resources to encourage support for board candidates? How many of our tax dollars have been misused? What will the consequences be for this huge breach of community trust?