Complaint follows district request that candidate remove district logo from campaign materials

PASO ROBLES — The Paso Robles Joint Unified School District (PRJUSD) has issued a press release regarding its logo used on a district Board of Trustees candidate’s campaign sign. 

According to the press release, the district had been receiving complaints that a candidate had been using the district logo for advertisements and campaign materials. The district stated that it “did not authorize using its logo for these purposes and does not support or endorse any candidate for elective office.”

Though the district did not specify which candidate they were referring to, special election candidate Kenney Enney filed a complaint against the district on Sunday, Feb. 26 — two days following the district’s press release.

A special election was initiated after a petition was successful in terminating provisionally appointed trustee Enney, who was sworn in on Oct. 11, 2022. He was appointed to fill the seat left behind by Chris Bausch, who left the PRJUSD to fill a seat on Paso Robles City Council.

The special election is scheduled for Tuesday, April 18, and is estimated to cost PRJUSD $453,000. 

The petition itself did not specify the reason for terminating Enney. However, enough signatures were collected, and a special election was scheduled. There are only two candidates vying for the seat: Enney, a retired Marine and rancher, and Angela Hollander, a retired nonprofit manager. 

The district stated they have requested the unnamed candidate in their press release to “cease using its logo for campaign purposes and will be forced to continue to expend District resources and pursue all appropriate actions to ensure its logo is only used with authorization.”

Adding that the district bases its reason for the cease because “State law prohibits the District from using its resources to support or oppose candidates for office.”

Enney filed his complaint with the California Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) against the San Luis Obispo County Office of Education (SLOCOE), the PRJUSD, SLO County Superintendent of Education James Brescia, Superintendent of PRJUSD Curt Dubost, and community member Carey Alvord-Schof, for violations of the State Political Reform Act. 

In a press release sent to Paso Robles Press from Enney, his complaint “alleges that the two education entities illegally expended public taxpayer funds under Penal Code 424, and failed to report these illegal expenditures as “contributions” under Chapter 4 of title 9 of the Government Code.”

By definition, Penal Code 424 makes it a crime for a public officer or a trustee of public funds to misappropriate the funds for improper use. If convicted, it is a felony that would result in up to four years in jail or prison, fines up to $10,000 and disqualification from holding public office.

Addressing the campaign signs usage of the district logo — confirming Enney is the candidate the district was referring to — Enney’s campaign attorney, Charles Bell of Sacramento, dismissed Dubost’s contentions as “completely baseless,” saying Enney’s use of the PRJUSD “logo” materials was “a clear case of application of the ‘fair use’ exception to federal copyright and state corporate laws.” Bell noted, “Dubost’s acts in particular dragged the school district into the April 18 election positioned against Enney, a position flatly violative of the Penal and Elections Codes.”

Enney accuses Brescia, Dubost, and Alvord-Schof of “formulating and implementing a petition campaign to qualify a measure for the purpose of depriving Enney, a critic of PRJUSD fiscal and gender policies, of his appointive PRJUSD Trustee position.”

Additionally, Enney states he has obtained public records that show Brescia, Dubost, and Alvord-Schof conspired to expedite the qualification process of the petition. 

Paso Robles Press has reached out to Brescia, Dubost, and Alvord-Schof for comment. We have also requested the public records Enney refers to above and a copy of the filed complaint. At the time of printing, Paso Robles Press did not receive a response from Dubost.

Brescia stated that as of noon on Tuesday, his office had not received any communications from the FPPC on the matter, adding, “My office and I take any complaints seriously and will work with the FPPC to respond to any questions/complaints.”

Alvord-Schof was a key organizer in the petition to remove Kenney and push for a special election. She is also the supervisor of homeless & foster youth services for PRJUSD.

“I formulated and implemented this petition using personal facilities, time, and expenses. No educational agencies or leaders were involved,” said Alvord-Schof of Enney’s allegations against her. “While I appreciate the credit, the petition was the result of input by many community members who have a strong interest in seeing the school district focus on the actual day-to-day challenges of teachers and not ideology. The effort did involve dozens of private citizen volunteers who helped collect signatures for this successful petition.”

Enney told Paso Robles Press that following the district’s first letter to him, he amended future printing to not include their logo but did not provide the requested complaint and public documents to us.

Paso Robles Press has also reached out to the FPPC for confirmation and a copy of the complaint. An FPPC communications director told Paso Robles Press that under FPPC regulations (18360), they cannot confirm or release any information regarding a complaint until two days after they inform any respondent of the complaint. The FPPC review process can take up to 14 days to decide if the complaint has merit for an investigation. Any updates on the filed complaint will not be available until early next week.

This is a developing story that will be updated as more information becomes available.