Paxton Files Contempt Motion Against ISD

Frisco ISD Administration
Frisco ISD Administration | Image by NBC DFW

The Texas Attorney General’s Office has filed a motion for contempt against Frisco ISD.

Attorney General Ken Paxton filed the motion after Frisco ISD allegedly failed to comply with a temporary restraining order issued on February 29 that prohibited district employees and leadership from engaging in unlawful electioneering, according to a press release.

Paxton’s legal proceedings against the district began on February 28, when he filed a complaint alleging that its officials were using taxpayer resources in violation of Texas law by encouraging residents to vote against pro-school choice candidates in the March 5 primary. The latest filing accused Frisco ISD of disregarding the injunction just four hours after receiving it.

“Frisco ISD used an official account to once again voice support for certain policy positions in clear violation of the order,” the press release states.

While the Office of the Attorney General cannot prosecute violators criminally at present, it still said it was “committed to using all available means to protect the integrity of Texas elections.”

As reported by The Dallas Express, the use of taxpayer resources by public school districts to allegedly electioneer and organize voters has been seen in several districts around Texas this election cycle. Paxton has now sued several taxpayer-funded school districts, including Denton ISD and Castleberry ISD, for alleged electioneering.

Denton ISD principals reportedly sent an email to their employees encouraging them to vote for candidates who did not support school choice and were not opposed to teaching things like critical race theory in public schools. The district stressed the importance of voting in the Republican primary in particular, noting that Texans can vote in either major political party’s primary without being a registered member of that party.

Castleberry ISD has also faced public scrutiny for allegedly emailing administration officials and staff on February 19, relaying political directives on behalf of the retired teachers union. The email provided a list of union-approved candidates who opposed school choice.

Similarly, Dallas ISD Superintendent Stephanie Elizalde, who has assailed school choice at every opportunity, sent emails to staff and parents urging them to vote, albeit without being especially explicit or naming preferred candidates.

Student enrollment at public schools has dropped sharply across the state, as previously reported by The Dallas Express. While multiple factors are playing into parents’ decisions to turn to private schools, homeschooling, and charters, academic underperformance has been a key one for certain districts, including Dallas ISD.

The latest Texas Education Agency accountability report for the 2021-2022 school year showed that only 41% of Dallas ISD students scored at grade level on their STAAR exams. Moreover, almost 20% of the district’s graduating Class of 2022 did not earn a diploma in four years, while the statewide average on-time graduation rate was 90%.

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