Vote by Mail ballots have been sent out to residents for the PRJUSD Special Election
PASO ROBLES — A Paso Robles Joint Unified School District trustee candidate has filed a second complaint with the California Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) against the district and the Paso Robles Public Educators (PRPE) union and its president, Bernadette Boddington, for violations of the State Political Reform Act.
Filed March 13, this is the second complaint PRJUSD Trustee Candidate Kenney Enney has filed against the district and the first complaint filed against PRPE. His first complaint was dismissed by the FPPC earlier this month. That first complaint filed was against 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.
Paso Robles Press received a press release from Enney that alleges Boddington, along with the “PRPE and PRJUSD, illegally expended public taxpayer funds for political purposes, violating California Government Code 8314, California Education Code 7054, and PRJUSD Policy 1160, all of which concern the use of taxpayer funds in political campaigns.”
California Government Code 8314 states, “It is unlawful for any elected state or local officer, including any state or local appointee, employee, or consultant, to use or permit others to use public resources for a campaign activity, or personal or other purposes which are not authorized by law.”
Ed Code 7054 (a) specifies that this equally applies to the use of public resources for the “purpose of urging the support or defeat of any ballot measure or candidate, including, but not limited to, any candidate for election to the governing board of the district.”
A special election for the district 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 the Paso Robles City Council. Enney and candidate Angela Hollander are now vying for the open seat on the district’s board.
The special election is scheduled for Tuesday, April 18, and was estimated to cost PRJUSD $453,000. However, as of Tuesday, March 21, the San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors approved an adjustment to that amount. SLO County Clerk Recorder Elaina Cano requested to authorize increasing the budget by $150,000 for costs associated with the PRJUSD Special Election.
Cano told Paso Robles Press, “The amount of the budget adjustment request does not necessarily correlate to the actual cost of the election. It’s also important to note that these funds are only allocated for services and supplies. They do not add any additional funds for staff salaries or temporary help.”
In documents provided by Enney, he includes an email sent by Boddington on Feb. 27 to a group of other district emails. Enney’s copy of the email comes from current district trustee Dorian Baker, who is also listed as a witness on the complaint.
Enney’s validation for his complaint states in his press release, “The email reminded union members that they are to support PRPE endorsed and funded candidate, Angela Hollander. The email furthermore, provided a link to Hollander’s webpage and contribution page and instructed union members on how to obtain campaign materials. These actions were in clear violation of district policy and California state law.”
In response to the complaint filed, Boddington told Paso Robles Press, “I am the newly elected President of PRPE, and I sent an email to my members with general information which included information about our endorsement of a candidate for School Board. The communication was done following the protocols outlined in our contract, which allows us to communicate with our members. These procedures have been in place for many years, and, to my knowledge, there has never been an issue before. The message was sent from my home, outside of contract hours, and no public funds were expended. As a newly elected President, I sincerely believed I was operating within the law and the provisions of our Collective Bargaining Agreement. In my 30 years as a Special Educator, I have mindfully and consistently followed Federal, State, and Local laws. Both in my position as PRPE President, Paso School educator, and a member of this wonderful community I have called home for 27 years, my first commitment is to faithfully serve the students, families, and educators to the best of my ability.”
Dubost told Paso Robles Press, “The second complaint focuses solely on a district email sent by the union after hours which included in it a political endorsement. It was caught immediately and addressed by [the] administration.”
Vote by Mail (VBM) ballots for the PRJUSD Special Election have been mailed out to residents.
According to the Clerk Recorder’s office, approximately 31,000 VBM ballots were mailed out. Subsequent mailings of VBM ballots will begin next week for newly registered voters in the district or voters that have updated their voter registration information after the initial mailing.
Voters can visit slovote.com for more election information.