Group alleges AISD violated election code in lead-up to bond vote

The $1 billion bond package for Austin ISD is being hotly contested. A group opposed to the bond, filed a complaint against the district today.

AUSTIN - A group opposing the upcoming Austin Independent School District bond stated they’ve filed a complaint with the Texas Ethics Commission against the school district.

“They're providing this information under the guise of educational information when you read it carefully, it's obviously pro-bond information,” said an attorney representing the Travis County Taxpayers Union (TCTU).

The bond, which calls for 16 new or modernized campuses as well as enhanced police equipment and transportation projects – has drawn strong reaction.

While TCTU has issues with the bond in general, Friday's press conference focused on allegations that AISD improperly used public money to promote the bond.

“We want the public to understand what is going on so they're not simply taking at face value the information that is basically being sent home with their children by their teachers and other AISD personnel,” Borgelt said.

In particular, they point to four incidents in their complaint filed with the Texas Ethics Commission.

TCTU stated a letter from Davis Elementary School, pro-bond stickers sent to parents from Casis Elementary School, an e-mail to parents of former AISD students from Superintendent Paul Cruz from an AISD e-mail address, and an unsigned letter by an AISD employee violated the Texas Election code.

"We don't expect (this investigation) would be completed before election day," added Borgelt. 

AISD declined to speak on camera, but Ylise Janssen, the district’s general counsel, provided this statement in response to the allegations:

"While we have not yet seen the complaint, the Austin Independent School District believes that an educated voter is the best voter and only provides factual information relating to the bond election. The district's hope is that the public will utilize the information when making an informed decision at the ballot box."

As of Friday afternoon, TCTU had not filed a formal complaint with the County Attorney’s Office.

Early voting for the bond has already begun. Election day is Nov. 7.

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