Friday, April 2, 2010

My Letter to Pike School Superintendent Nathanial Jones - Promotion of Guion Creek Referendum on School's Website

There are few things I feel stronger about than that a government entity should not be using taxpayer funds to promote a referendum. During the Wishard Referendum, Mayor Ballard used the city's email system to promote a "yes" vote. Chancellor Bantz of IUPUI used the university's public email to also promote the referendum. Now I see that the Pike School administration is using its website to promote the Guion Creek referendum, which is specifically prohibited by law. Below is my letter to Pike Superintendent Nathanial Jones asking that the pages be pulled and that equal access be provided to opponents of the Guion Creek referendum.

Here is my letter below:

March 31, 2010

Nathanial Jones
Superintendent of Schools
Metropolitan School District of Pike Township
Indianapolis, Indiana
njones@pike.k12.in.us

Re: Violation of Indiana Law - Promotion of Guion Creek Referendum on School Website

Dear Superintendent Jones:

It has come to my attention that the administration is using the Pike Township School website to promote the Guion Creek referendum. In particular, I would point to the following pages:

http://www.pike.k12.in.us/district/about/community/newgces.htm

http://www.pike.k12.in.us/NR/rdonlyres/2634B20D-7974-4ED9-B591-70CF95265022/16675/GuionCreekSlide2.pdf

I have attached print outs of those two pages.

IC 6-1.1-20-10.1(b)(1) prohibits political subdivisions (which include school corporations) from using facilities and equipments, including mail and messaging systems, to promote a position on a public question, unless equal access to the facility or equipment is given to persons with a position opposite to that of the political subdivision. I am not aware that you have offered the school districts website to opponents of the referendum. In addition, I would imagine that a school employee or a contractor of the school, paid for with tax dollars, installed the referendum pages. That would be a violation of IC 6-1.1-20-10.1(b)(3).

The voters of Pike Township deserve a fair and honest referendum. It is bad enough that the aforementioned pages contain false and misleading information about the referendum, such as that it does not include a tax increase. (Even the minutes of the November meeting on the project indicate that it will require a tax increase as does the mandatory language from the Department of Local Government Finance included in the referendum.) It is even worse when taxpayer money is being used to disseminate false and misleading information in an effort to derive yet more money from the taxpayers.

Regardless of whether you concede the information is inaccurate, promoting a building referendum on the school’s website is clearly a violation of Indiana law. I would ask that you take down the pages immediately. I would further ask that you provide two pages on the Pike website to opponents of the referendum, for an equal number of days that the pro-referendum pages were posted), in order to comply with the equal access requirement of IC 6-1.1-20-10.1(b)(1). School Board Candidate Allison Maguire joins me in this request.

Sincerely,


Paul K. Ogden

2 comments:

david said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
pike said...

While the administration was either negligent or naive in their handling of the process, I believe that after touring the school recently it needs to be demolished and rebuilt. The Administration needs to fully understand the process before they start another project similar to this, as well as find a new law firm (BTLaw is the firm of record now for the building projects). The lack of maintenance over the past few years at Guion Creek is quite evident. Some residents of the Township feel as though this referendum which we started has “hurt” the children at Guion, but in fact it was not the remonstrators it was the administrators that have hurt the children by not communicating with the residents the needs of the schools. Should this project not pass it can not be brought up again for one year, not can a remodeling project for the same building, contrary to what the School Board Vice President Larry Grau implied. While the administration neglected the children, I would hope that the residents of Pike won’t on Election Day. I urge all to vote YES for public question #1.