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Sunday, July 24, 2011

My email to the CCS Board about the recall Snyder campaign effort

Clarkston Community Schools Board members,

I wanted to make you all aware that when Dr. Rock did what he did regarding the "Recall Snyder campaign" back in June, that he may have violated the State Campaign Finance Act...  See the article below regarding what the superintendent of the Lawrence Public Schools did around the same time frame and the hot water he is currently in over what he did...  


Here is some information on what happened:   http://www.clarkstonnews.com/Articles-i-2011-07-13-242494.113121-sub14473.113121-Letter-to-the-editor.html 

What Dr. Rock did may end up having a financial and possibly legal impact on Dr. Rock and/or the school district.  The board needs to grow a backbone and get the superintendent under control before he does any further damage to the district... 

Right about now, you should be wishing you hadn't extended Dr. Rock's contract for two additional years to 2015...  Oh wait... it was only four of you, Mr Hyer, Mr. Bomier, Mrs. McGinnis, and Mrs. Egan, the newly elected (by yourselves) CCS board officers, who actually voted to extend Dr. Rock's contract for two additional years, from 2013 to 2015, and that was AFTER he had already had his "recall Gov. Snyder" petition signing faux pas...



See the full article here:  http://www.michigancapitolconfidential.com/15405 
The article is easier to read if you click on the link, or you can read it below:

School District Admits 'Big Mistake' Over 'Get Rid of Snyder' Phone Alert

District apologizes for robocall that may violate state campaign finance act

By Jack Spencer | July 13, 2011
A public school district in Michigan has used its phone alert system to point voters toward the recall effort against Gov. Rick Snyder. In early June, shortly after the Snyder recall reached the petition-gathering phase, the alert system for Lawrence Public Schools sent out the following robocall to residents of the district:
This is a message from the Lawrence Public Schools (inaudible) alert system. This is an informational item and not directly associated with the school. Concerned parents interested in cuts to education . . . we're here to inform you that there is information about the problem. Also, be advised that there is a petition to recall Governor Snyder. If you want, stop by Chuck Moden's house right by the school June 7th/8th between 3:30 and 4:00 pm. Thank you. Goodbye.”
Rep. Tom McMillin, R-Rochester Hills
To listen, click here.
The school alert system is used for special announcements, such as school closings due to snowfall, lock-downs or other school-related information. In such situations, the robocalls go out to “alert” residents of the district about a special circumstance that is taking place. Though it is uncertain without an official investigation, use of the system to advance a political endeavor, such as the Snyder recall, appears to have been a violation of the state’s campaign finance law.

“It will never happen again” Lawrence Public Schools Superintendent John Overley told Capitol Confidential today, referring to the alert that went out about the Snyder recall. “It will not be done again, ever.”

Capitol Confidential asked Overley if the use of the alert in connection with the recall had been a mistake.

“Yes, a big mistake,” Overley responded.

Capitol Confidential asked Overley if the situation involving the alert had been brought before the district's school board.

“No, we haven't done that, but the school board members know about it,” Overley said. “My understanding was that this was to be more informational than it turned out.”

Capitol Confidential asked Overley if that meant he had known ahead of time that something concerning the recall was going to be sent out.
 
“We're not going to ever let this happen again,” Overley asserted.

Robert LaBrant is senior vice president of political affairs and general counsel for the Michigan Chamber of Commerce. He is a veteran of many battles involving public schools misusing, or allegedly misusing, taxpayer resources for political purposes. Capitol Confidential asked him about situations such as the one involving the use of the Lawrence alert system.
“If this actually is the school district putting out the information in the manner described, it sounds like it would be a violation of Section 57 of the Michigan Campaign Finance Act,” Labrant said. “They can't use it (the school information system) in that way.”

Capitol Confidential asked Labrant what, if any, penalty would result from the district helping to direct voters to where they could get more information about the Snyder recall.

“If a complaint were to be filed with the Secretary of State, and it was determined that there had been a violation, I'd say there would at least be some kind of minor civil penalty,” Labrant said.

Fred Williams, spokesman for Michigan Secretary of State Ruth Johnson, said he wouldn't speculate as to whether any specific action would be considered a violation of the Michigan Campaign Finance Act or not.
“If someone filed a complaint, we would look into it,” Woodhams said.

Individuals found guilty of violating Section 57 could face a fine of up to $20,000. However, one might reasonably ask to what extent the current law, and how it's implemented, actually serves as a deterrent.
Those attempting to recall Snyder have the daunting task of trying to collect 806,522 valid signatures in just a few months. Logic dictates that fertile ground for at least starting to harvest the signatures would be in state's K-12 community. With that in mind, the core question might be whether the possibility of getting caught and fined is likely to outweigh the opportunity of bringing in a lot of signatures.

“It sounds to me like this is a problem that needs some stronger penalties,” said Rep Tom McMillin, R-Rochester Hills, Chair of the Michigan House Oversight, Reform and Ethics Committee. “Clearly just giving them a slap on the hand is not working to stop it.”

McMillin told Capitol Confidential that news of the Lawrence Public School incident would likely affect legislation that's currently before his committee.
 
“There is legislation that's about ready to move in my committee that could pertain to this kind of situation,” McMillin said. “It's the Pscholka bill and we'll be taking it up soon.”

McMillin was referring to HB 4052, sponsored by Rep. Al Pscholka, R-Stevensville, which would: 
“. . . prohibit a public employee or collective bargaining organization from using publicly owned property, facilities, or services, including an electronic mail system, for (1) political activities, (2) political fund-raising, (3) campaigning for office of a collective bargaining organization, (4) collective bargaining organizing activities, or (5) solicitation of employees for membership in a collective bargaining organization.”

Capitol Confidential asked McMillin if he believed HB 4052 would address situations such as the Lawrence incident.

“I'd say, after hearing about this (the Lawrence) situation, we'll make sure the bill does address it before it comes out of committee,” McMillin responded.

Pscholka was the first lawmaker to be targeted for recall this year. Technically the issue he's facing recall over is the emergency manager legislation. He told Capitol Confidential that he has loads of examples of school employees misusing school email accounts and using school time for political purposes.

“I had a high school teacher call my office on the day of the School Aid budget vote,” Pscholka said. “First, I explained to her that what we were voting on wasn't what she had been told it was. Then I asked her why she was calling in the middle of the day and what about her class? She told me her class was taking a test and she'd just received an email from the MEA (Michigan Education Association) telling her to contact me. She also said she hadn't expected to get ahold of me.”

“So there she is calling me, instead of being in the room while her class was taking a test,” Pscholka added.

Pscholka also said his office has been collecting emails from school accounts pertaining to political matters.

“We have a stack of these emails,” Pscholka said. “We've been saving them. They came from school email accounts at the taxpayers' expense, not personal accounts. Most of them are from teachers. Some are actual emails, others are forwarded emails. They were written about a myriad of issues.”

Capitol Confidential asked Labrant if the Snyder recall effort could potentially be penalized as a result of such an action by a local school district.

“No, it would have no effect on them,” Labrant said. “If the MEA (Michigan Education Association) was paying for it, that would make it an in-kind contribution to the recall effort. But that would be the only effect.”
Charles “Chuck” Moden could not be reached for comment on this article.
Section 57 of the Michigan Campaign Finance Act states the following:
  • A public body or an individual acting for a public body shall not use or authorize the use of funds, personnel, office space, computer hardware or software, property, stationery, postage, vehicles, equipment, supplies, or other public resources to make a contribution or expenditure or provide volunteer personal services that are excluded from the definition of contribution under section 4(3)(a). This subsection does not apply to any of the following:
    • (a) The expression of views by an elected or appointed public official who has policy making responsibilities.
    • (b) The production or dissemination of factual information concerning issues relevant to the function of the public body.
    • (c) The production or dissemination of debates, interviews, commentary, or information by a broadcasting station, newspaper, magazine, or other periodical or publication in the regular course of broadcasting or publication.
    • (d) The use of a public facility owned or leased by, or on behalf of, a public body if any candidate or committee has an equal opportunity to use the public facility.
    • (e) The use of a public facility owned or leased by, or on behalf of, a public body if that facility is primarily used as a family dwelling and is not used to conduct a fund-raising event.
    • (f) An elected or appointed public official or an employee of a public body who, when not acting for a public body but is on his or her own personal time, is expressing his or her own personal views, is expending his or her own personal funds, or is providing his or her own personal volunteer services.
  • A person who knowingly violates this section is guilty of a misdemeanor punishable, if the person is an individual, by a fine of not more than $1,000.00 or imprisonment for not more than 1 year, or both, or if the person is not an individual, by 1 of the following, whichever is greater:
  • A fine of not more than $20,000.00.
  • A fine equal to the amount of the improper contribution or expenditure."

Thanks for you time.

Dawn Schaller

Illegal Recall Snyder petition signing on CCS property (Clarkston News Article)



Recall in wrong place (Clarkston News article, June 22, 2011)


June 22, 2011 - Activists seeking to recall Gov. Rick Snyder count schools among their allies. But using school property in Clarkston crosses a line, officials say.

"I called the Oakland County Sheriff's Department this weekend," said Superintendent Dr. Rod Rock. "They came over and asked the group to leave."

Petitioners set up signs and a table at the Sashabaw Road school last Friday and Sunday, which is when Rock took action.

As of Tuesday morning, Pine Knob Elementary continues to be listed on www.FireRickSnyder.org as one of the sites where Michigan voters can go on June 25-26 to sign a petition to recall the governor.
 
According to district Bylaw 7510, "a facility reservation must be completed and approved for each event scheduled after the normal school day, weekends, days when school is not in session, holidays and during the summer months."

The group made no action to reserve the spot. When asked on Friday about the petition signing, Rock said the district did not know about it.

"We have no knowledge of this event," he said. "We have not been contacted by the event organizers. We did not give them permission to use our facilities. We do not endorse the event. We will not take a position on this recall."

But some residents thought differently.

"The recall announcement on the district's own website proves they are aware of the event, chose not to stop it, and didn't make the same demands that were required of us to set up on school property to collect recall signatures (of  Independence Township Supervisor David Wagner)," said Michael Powell of Independence Township.

The recall-Snyder event was posted on Clarkston school district's home page as a disclaimer – "Clarkston Community Schools is NOT endorsing nor has scheduled an event at Pine Knob Elementary School where the 'Oakland County Recall Rick Snyder' group is asking residents to sign their petition."

During the petition drive to recall Wagner last year, activists collecting signatures at Clarkston Junior High School were turned away, and police were called.

That decision was based on Bylaw 9700, which prohibits use of school property for "promoting the interests of any nonschool agency or organization, public or private" without school board permission.

At the time, district officials said they would not allow any solicitating for signatures for a recall or any other political action on school property.

Concerned residents called The Clarkston News about what they felt was a double standard in the recall-Snyder case.

Rock, who was not yet superintendent at the time of the Wagner recall, said it was not.

"We applied the same standard to both situations," he said, and explained he directed his team to put the disclaimer on the website.

Board of Education Secretary Joan Patterson agreed.

"We need to be consistent with the rules," Patterson said. "If you can't do it for one, you can't do it for the other."

Monday, July 18, 2011

Illegal recall Rick Snyder reference on the CCS district website on 6/18/11

The school district was notified of the planned recall petition signing earlier in the week by a resident.  The district was also told about the posting to the website before the first day of the event on 6/17.   The recall group arrived at Pine Knob Elementary School on Sashabaw Rd on 6/17 with large signs.  The group was never told to leave the site on 6/17/11.  A resident saw the group at the school and called the district on 6/17 around 9AM.  He left his name, complaint, and phone # with the district.  He still has not heard a word from the district.  He also talked to a recall worker at the school and was told that their group never asked for permission from the school district, and that they never heard anything from the school district about not being welcome on school property for the recall petition signing.  Even though the school district had advance knowledge that the recall group would be there and had it posted to their website before hand.  He believes the district called the police on the recall group on the second day (6/18) because of the pressure they were getting from the press.  

I was told that there was no signage on site at the school that said, nor did any of the recall workers refer to themselves, as the "Oakland County Recall Rick Snyder group", although the district referred to the group as the "Oakland County recall Rick Snyder group" on the district website even before they arrived at the school to start getting petitions signed.  That information could only be found on the firericksnyder.org website.  He said that Dr. Rock has admitted to "instructing his staff to post a disclaimer on the website."  If that were true, then Dr. Rock was using school personnel to post disclaimer information he had researched on the firericksnyder website about an event that violated school policy.  Why was he researching this website, posting this on the district website, and not preventing the event from occurring?

Copied Text From Clarkston Community Schools website 6/18/2011 (after day one of the petition signing on 6/17/11 and a day before the planned third day of signing on 6/19/11)   It was actually on the district website for several days before the first signature collection day of 6/17. 

Clarkston Community Schools is NOT endorsing nor has scheduled an event at Pine Knob Elementary School where the "Oakland County Recall Rick Snyder" group is asking residents to sign their petition. 

 


Clarkston is a highly regarded school district with an enrollment of 8,100 students. Our 2003 Bond helped us reconfigure our grade level structure to serve students in more age-appropriate settings.  We made a commitment to raise the academic bar to an even higher standard, while working to keep our youngsters from "growing up too fast."  We now have seven elementary schools (K-5), one middle school serving grades 6-7, one junior high for grades 8-9, and Clarkston High School, which serves 10th-12th grade students.

Our high school facility includes state-of-the-art technology, a Performing Arts Center, Olympic-sized pool and top-notch athletic facilities.  In 2006, we opened a brand new Early Childhood Center.

The school district has maintained a strong vision for the future, and even during these tough economic times, the district has continued to offer a rigorous curriculum and increase programs to better serve the community.  Clarkston offers Free Full Day Kindergarten, a Young Fives Kindergarten and a Half-Day Kindergarten option.  The district now offers an International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme at the high school level.  Our Science, Math and Technology Academy (CSMTech) serves accepted 9th-12th grade students from around Oakland and neighboring counties and we offer 13 Advanced Placement courses.

Rigorous, highly comprehensive curricular offerings enable our students to prepare for future success.  Clarkston's reputation as an outstanding school district is well established:  We have two national Blue Ribbon schools and six others have earned Michigan Exemplary Blue Ribbon school status; Clarkston was recently named as Forbes Magazine's Top Suburbs to Live Well, citing our graduation rates and class sizes; our MEAP scores and Education YES! grades are among the best in Oakland County; and last year alone, our graduates earned over $5 million in scholarships.

The 36-square-mile area surrounding the quaint village of Clarkston offers the beauty of country living with the conveniences of a modern city.  With a wonderful Parks and Recreation department, as well as the county park (Independence Oaks) within its limits, Clarkston offers families ample leisure time activities.


SchoolCenter Picture

  • Follow Dr. Rod Rock on Twitter @RodRock1
  • Click on the following link to read an article on CSMTech that was featured in Curator Magazine!
  • Click on the following link to read an article on the CHS Girls Tennis State Champions!
  • Click on the following link to follow, respond and read Dr. Rock's blogs:
  • Click on the following link to read about the CCS Cycling Club that was featured in a national magazine:
  • Click on the link below to see SMS students featured in an engineering program sponsored by GM and SAE!
  • Click on the link below to see CHS Principal Gary Kaul featured in a student-made video!
 

Recall Gov Snyder signature collection response from CCS Board President, Cheryl McGinnis and 6/22/11 Clarkston News article

I emailed the entire CCS School Board regarding the 'Recall Snyder' signature collections in June of 2011.

I received a response from Cheryl McGinnis, the new CCS Board President.  She said, "In no way does the Superintendent’s decision to remove someone from our facilities when they do not hold the proper facilities usage permit have anything to do with campaign finance act as referenced in your email.

I advised her that the issue was NOT that I believed that the superintendent's request to remove the Recall Snyder signature collectors from district property for not having a proper facilities usage permit had anything to do with the campaign finance act...  It was not the answer to the subject of my complaint.
 

I advised her that the issue was that the superintendent DID know about the plan to have Recall Snyder petition distributors on district property in advance of the planned days for the petition signing and he used the district website's home page to actually advertise his disingenuous "disclaimer".  The "disclaimer" stated,
"Clarkston Community Schools is NOT endorsing nor has scheduled an event at Pine Knob Elementary School where the 'Oakland County Recall Rick Snyder' group is asking residents to sign their petition."   
According to the The Clarkston News article, "Recall in Wrong Place", June 22, 2011, http://www.clarkstonnews.com/Articles-i-2011-06-22-242179.113121-sub-Recall-in-wrong-place.html :

  • "The group made no action to reserve the spot. When asked on Friday about the petition signing, Rock said the district did not know about it."
  • "We have no knowledge of this event," he said. "We have not been contacted by the event organizers. We did not give them permission to use our facilities. We do not endorse the event. We will not take a position on this recall."
  • Dr. Rock also did not call for the Oakland County Sheriff's department to tell the Recall Snyder group they could not collect signatures on district property until  Sunday, but he was interviewed by the Clarkston News on the Friday before that Sunday and the district website already had a disclaimer on the home page. 
Once Dr. Rock was advised of the plans for the signature collection on school property, Dr. Rock had certain responsibilities/obligations as far as I can see.  They were: 
  • He had an obligation to advise the group they could not collect signatures on district property and he apparently did not do that until complaints prompted him to do so on that Sunday, allowing the signature collectors to collect signatures on Friday and Saaturday. 
  • He should not have used district assets/systems (district website) to post what was basically an advertisement for the signature collection on the district website home page (the campaign finance act violation issue).
  • He should not have told the Clarkston News that he did not know about the recall event prior to it happening, when the district website clearly showed the district was aware of the event prior to the event taking place.
I asked her to address those three issues.

Here is the Clarkston News Article:

http://www.clarkstonnews.com/Articles-i-2011-06-22-242179.113121-sub-Recall-in-wrong-place.html

Recall in wrong place (by Wendi Reardon, Clarkston News, June 22, 2011)


June 22, 2011 - Activists seeking to recall Gov. Rick Snyder count schools among their allies. But using school property in Clarkston crosses a line, officials say.

"I called the Oakland County Sheriff's Department this weekend," said Superintendent Dr. Rod Rock. "They came over and asked the group to leave."

Petitioners set up signs and a table at the Sashabaw Road school last Friday and Sunday, which is when Rock took action.

As of Tuesday morning, Pine Knob Elementary continues to be listed on www.FireRickSnyder.org as one of the sites where Michigan voters can go on June 25-26 to sign a petition to recall the governor.
According to district Bylaw 7510, "a facility reservation must be completed and approved for each event scheduled after the normal school day, weekends, days when school is not in session, holidays and during the summer months."
The group made no action to reserve the spot. When asked on Friday about the petition signing, Rock said the district did not know about it.

"We have no knowledge of this event," he said. "We have not been contacted by the event organizers. We did not give them permission to use our facilities. We do not endorse the event. We will not take a position on this recall."

But some residents thought differently.

"The recall announcement on the district's own website proves they are aware of the event, chose not to stop it, and didn't make the same demands that were required of us to set up on school property to collect recall signatures (of Independence Township Supervisor David Wagner)," said Michael Powell of Independence Township.

The recall-Snyder event was posted on Clarkston school district's home page as a disclaimer – "Clarkston Community Schools is NOT endorsing nor has scheduled an event at Pine Knob Elementary School where the 'Oakland County Recall Rick Snyder' group is asking residents to sign their petition."

During the petition drive to recall Wagner last year, activists collecting signatures at Clarkston Junior High School were turned away, and police were called.

That decision was based on Bylaw 9700, which prohibits use of school property for "promoting the interests of any nonschool agency or organization, public or private" without school board permission.
At the time, district officials said they would not allow any solicitating for signatures for a recall or any other political action on school property.

Concerned residents called The Clarkston News about what they felt was a double standard in the recall-Snyder case.
Rock, who was not yet superintendent at the time of the Wagner recall, said it was not.

"We applied the same standard to both situations," he said, and explained he directed his team to put the disclaimer on the website.

Board of Education Secretary Joan Patterson agreed.

"We need to be consistent with the rules," Patterson said. "If you can't do it for one, you can't do it for the other."

Saturday, July 16, 2011

7/13/11 Letter to the Editor re: Dr. Rock's double standard re: response to recall Gov Snyder petition signing at Pine Knob Elementary

Letter to the editor (click here)

Activists find double standard


July 13, 2011 - Dear Editor,

Thank you for your story ("Recall in wrong place," and your editorial "Keep school information flow open," June 23). It has shown us that the change in leadership in the Clarkston Community Schools has brought us more of the same.

It's been a month since we called CCS and left our names and phone numbers regarding our concerns of a double standard we saw the school district applying to a recall Gov. Snyder campaign that was illegally going to be held on school property.

Those who brought the website posting and illegality of the recall event to Superintendent Dr. Rod Rock's attention days before the event occurred, still have not received return phone calls from anyone at the school district.

Contrary to Dr. Rock's assertion, it took three and a half days longer for the school district to finally apply the "same standard" they swiftly demanded of other recall groups. Obviously the subject of the recall had something to do with the school district's double standard.

According to your story, Dr. Rock said he "had no advance knowledge of" the recall at Pine Knob Elementary school, but he goes on to say that he "directed his team to put a disclaimer on the school district's website."

Yet we saw the website disclaimer posted well before the first day of the planned recall at Pine Knob Elementary.

Posting a disclaimer well before the event occurred and then claiming that you had "no knowledge of" the event, is impossible!

The school district was fully aware that school property was going to be used for a recall campaign, well before it was scheduled, yet the school district chose to ignore the public's warning.

Our recent experience has shown us that it's asking too much to hear from "one voice" at the superintendent's office, let alone two.

Has the superintendent's office found a Supreme Court ruling that says they don't have to speak to taxpayers now, too?

"One voice" doesn't return calls made to the superintendent's office. Do board members really want to put themselves in the position that may lead to "one voice" that may not be returning their calls too?

We think school board members need to rethink their "one voice" policy and question Dr. Rock's "one voice" that used our school district website for his political purposes.

Michael and Lori Powell
Joel and Mindy DeLong
Mike and Dawn Schaller


Independence Township

7/14/11 email to CCS Board members re: Dr. Rock's "Recall Snyder campaign" petition signing snafu

Clarkston Community Schools Board members,

I wanted to make you all aware that when Dr. Rock did what he did regarding the "Recall Snyder campaign" back in June, that he may have violated the State Campaign Finance Act...  See the article below regarding what the superintendent of the Lawrence Public Schools did around the same time frame and the hot water he is currently in over what he did...  Here is some information on what happened:  
http://www.clarkstonnews.com/Articles-i-2011-07-13-242494.113121-sub14473.113121-Letter-to-the-editor.html 
What Dr. Rock did may end up having a financial and possibly legal impact on Dr. Rock and/or the school district.  The board needs to grow a backbone and get the superintendent under control before he does any further damage to the district... 

Right about now, you should be wishing you hadn't extended Dr. Rock's contract for two additional years to 2015...  Oh wait... it was only four of you, Mr Hyer, Mr. Bomier, Mrs. McGinnis, and Mrs. Egan, the newly elected (by yourselves) CCS board officers, who actually voted to extend Dr. Rock's contract for two additional years, from 2013 to 2015, and that was AFTER he had already had his "recall Gov. Snyder" petition signing faux pas... 

See the full article here:  http://www.michigancapitolconfidential.com/15405 
The article is easier to read if you click on the link, or you can read it below:

School District Admits 'Big Mistake' Over 'Get Rid of Snyder' Phone Alert

District apologizes for robocall that may violate state campaign finance act

By Jack Spencer | July 13, 2011
A public school district in Michigan has used its phone alert system to point voters toward the recall effort against Gov. Rick Snyder. In early June, shortly after the Snyder recall reached the petition-gathering phase, the alert system for Lawrence Public Schools sent out the following robocall to residents of the district:
“This is a message from the Lawrence Public Schools (inaudible) alert system. This is an informational item and not directly associated with the school. Concerned parents interested in cuts to education . . . we're here to inform you that there is information about the problem. Also, be advised that there is a petition to recall Governor Snyder. If you want, stop by Chuck Moden's house right by the school June 7th/8th between 3:30 and 4:00 pm. Thank you. Goodbye.”
Rep. Tom McMillin, R-Rochester Hills
To listen, click here.
The school alert system is used for special announcements, such as school closings due to snowfall, lock-downs or other school-related information. In such situations, the robocalls go out to “alert” residents of the district about a special circumstance that is taking place. Though it is uncertain without an official investigation, use of the system to advance a political endeavor, such as the Snyder recall, appears to have been a violation of the state’s campaign finance law.

“It will never happen again” Lawrence Public Schools Superintendent John Overley told Capitol Confidential today, referring to the alert that went out about the Snyder recall. “It will not be done again, ever.”

Capitol Confidential asked Overley if the use of the alert in connection with the recall had been a mistake.

“Yes, a big mistake,” Overley responded.

Capitol Confidential asked Overley if the situation involving the alert had been brought before the district's school board.

“No, we haven't done that, but the school board members know about it,” Overley said. “My understanding was that this was to be more informational than it turned out.”
Capitol Confidential asked Overley if that meant he had known ahead of time that something concerning the recall was going to be sent out.
“We're not going to ever let this happen again,” Overley asserted.
Robert LaBrant is senior vice president of political affairs and general counsel for the Michigan Chamber of Commerce. He is a veteran of many battles involving public schools misusing, or allegedly misusing, taxpayer resources for political purposes. Capitol Confidential asked him about situations such as the one involving the use of the Lawrence alert system.
“If this actually is the school district putting out the information in the manner described, it sounds like it would be a violation of Section 57 of the Michigan Campaign Finance Act,” Labrant said. “They can't use it (the school information system) in that way.”
Capitol Confidential asked Labrant what, if any, penalty would result from the district helping to direct voters to where they could get more information about the Snyder recall.
“If a complaint were to be filed with the Secretary of State, and it was determined that there had been a violation, I'd say there would at least be some kind of minor civil penalty,” Labrant said.
Fred Williams, spokesman for Michigan Secretary of State Ruth Johnson, said he wouldn't speculate as to whether any specific action would be considered a violation of the Michigan Campaign Finance Act or not.
“If someone filed a complaint, we would look into it,” Woodhams said.
Individuals found guilty of violating Section 57 could face a fine of up to $20,000. However, one might reasonably ask to what extent the current law, and how it's implemented, actually serves as a deterrent.
Those attempting to recall Snyder have the daunting task of trying to collect 806,522 valid signatures in just a few months. Logic dictates that fertile ground for at least starting to harvest the signatures would be in state's K-12 community. With that in mind, the core question might be whether the possibility of getting caught and fined is likely to outweigh the opportunity of bringing in a lot of signatures.
“It sounds to me like this is a problem that needs some stronger penalties,” said Rep Tom McMillin, R-Rochester Hills, Chair of the Michigan House Oversight, Reform and Ethics Committee. “Clearly just giving them a slap on the hand is not working to stop it.”
McMillin told Capitol Confidential that news of the Lawrence Public School incident would likely affect legislation that's currently before his committee.
“There is legislation that's about ready to move in my committee that could pertain to this kind of situation,” McMillin said. “It's the Pscholka bill and we'll be taking it up soon.”
McMillin was referring to HB 4052, sponsored by Rep. Al Pscholka, R-Stevensville, which would: “. . . prohibit a public employee or collective bargaining organization from using publicly owned property, facilities, or services, including an electronic mail system, for (1) political activities, (2) political fund-raising, (3) campaigning for office of a collective bargaining organization, (4) collective bargaining organizing activities, or (5) solicitation of employees for membership in a collective bargaining organization.”
Capitol Confidential asked McMillin if he believed HB 4052 would address situations such as the Lawrence incident.
“I'd say, after hearing about this (the Lawrence) situation, we'll make sure the bill does address it before it comes out of committee,” McMillin responded.
Pscholka was the first lawmaker to be targeted for recall this year. Technically the issue he's facing recall over is the emergency manager legislation. He told Capitol Confidential that he has loads of examples of school employees misusing school email accounts and using school time for political purposes.
“I had a high school teacher call my office on the day of the School Aid budget vote,” Pscholka said. “First, I explained to her that what we were voting on wasn't what she had been told it was. Then I asked her why she was calling in the middle of the day and what about her class? She told me her class was taking a test and she'd just received an email from the MEA (Michigan Education Association) telling her to contact me. She also said she hadn't expected to get ahold of me.”
“So there she is calling me, instead of being in the room while her class was taking a test,” Pscholka added.
Pscholka also said his office has been collecting emails from school accounts pertaining to political matters.
“We have a stack of these emails,” Pscholka said. “We've been saving them. They came from school email accounts at the taxpayers' expense, not personal accounts. Most of them are from teachers. Some are actual emails, others are forwarded emails. They were written about a myriad of issues.”
Capitol Confidential asked Labrant if the Snyder recall effort could potentially be penalized as a result of such an action by a local school district.
“No, it would have no effect on them,” Labrant said. “If the MEA (Michigan Education Association) was paying for it, that would make it an in-kind contribution to the recall effort. But that would be the only effect.”
Charles “Chuck” Moden could not be reached for comment on this article.
Section 57 of the Michigan Campaign Finance Act states the following:
(1) A public body or an individual acting for a public body shall not use or authorize the use of funds, personnel, office space, computer hardware or software, property, stationery, postage, vehicles, equipment, supplies, or other public resources to make a contribution or expenditure or provide volunteer personal services that are excluded from the definition of contribution under section 4(3)(a). This subsection does not apply to any of the following:
(a) The expression of views by an elected or appointed public official who has policy making responsibilities.
(b) The production or dissemination of factual information concerning issues relevant to the function of the public body.
(c) The production or dissemination of debates, interviews, commentary, or information by a broadcasting station, newspaper, magazine, or other periodical or publication in the regular course of broadcasting or publication.
(d) The use of a public facility owned or leased by, or on behalf of, a public body if any candidate or committee has an equal opportunity to use the public facility.
(e) The use of a public facility owned or leased by, or on behalf of, a public body if that facility is primarily used as a family dwelling and is not used to conduct a fund-raising event.
(f) An elected or appointed public official or an employee of a public body who, when not acting for a public body but is on his or her own personal time, is expressing his or her own personal views, is expending his or her own personal funds, or is providing his or her own personal volunteer services.
(2) A person who knowingly violates this section is guilty of a misdemeanor punishable, if the person is an individual, by a fine of not more than $1,000.00 or imprisonment for not more than 1 year, or both, or if the person is not an individual, by 1 of the following, whichever is greater:
(a) A fine of not more than $20,000.00.
(b) A fine equal to the amount of the improper contribution or expenditure."


Thanks for you time.

Dawn Schaller