After investigating a complaint from an opponent of Park Hill’s levy question on the April 8, 2014 ballot, the Missouri Ethics Commission found that most of the communications the district produced about the levy were informational and did not cross the line into advocacy.
The commission did find an issue with a statement that appeared in two of the hundreds of communications the district sent out to inform the community about the levy.
The statement said, “In order to prepare our students for 21st-century college and careers, the Park Hill School District is asking voters to approve a levy increase on April 8.”
Commissioners said it was the first part of this statement that was the problem. The commission said another communication was fine, which said, “The Board put a question on the April 8 ballot asking voters to increase the levy by 32 cents.”
All of this appeared in a joint agreement between the commission and Superintendent Dr. Scott Springston, which included a $100 fine for Dr. Springston.
When we communicated with the community about the levy, we believed we were carefully following the law about elections, which says we can only use public funds for information, not advocacy. We are grateful that our agreement with the commission provides more guidance for us and for other districts, so we can be sure not make any mistakes.