Head of popular charter school crosses the line, uses public resources for personal politicsOct 29th, 2012 | By Julie Erfle | Category: education, elections, Featured Articles, Main Article, Prop 204
Erik Twist, Headmaster of Veritas Archway Classical Academy in Phoenix, recently sent an email blast to the school’s parents explaining his opposition to Proposition 204. Prop 204 seeks to permanently extend the one-cent sales tax to fund public education, which includes charter schools like Veritas.
In the email Mr. Twist rattled off a number of reasons as to why he personally opposes the law, including his fear of funding special interests. Then he attaches a “fact sheet,” created by the special interest group No New Taxes, No on Prop 204 to back up his reasoning.
I was always told that parent directories would and should only be used for official school business. No pandering allowed.
Apparently Mr. Twist, who also happens to be the Chairman of the Arizona Right to Life group, feels political posturing is part of the duties of headmaster. The Right to Lifers, by the way, are also opposed to Prop 204, saying it might provide funds for abortions, which is not mentioned anywhere in the bill and is vehemently denied by the authors.
This makes me wonder, whom is Mr. Twist representing when he sends out political literature to parents? Veritas or his anti-abortion group?
As the head of a charter school, Mr. Twist should be aware that it is against the law to use public resources to try and influence an election. Sending out an email blast from the school’s computers on school time to school families is a blatant abuse of the law, and Mr. Twist should be properly disciplined.
So where’s the outcry? I’m not sure there is one. The only story I could find was one by the Phoenix NewTimes seen here. There’s no mention of any action being taken by the charter school’s board, only a handful of brave parents who have said they plan to file a complaint with the Attorney General’s office. Though considering the mess our current AG is in, I’m not sure how much good it will do.
Can you imagine if this had occurred at a public school? What if a grade school principal had used school resources to pass along political literature along with her personal thoughts on why Prop 204 should be passed, or why she believes President Obama is the best-qualified candidate for education proponents? Do any of us believe this principal wouldn’t be punished for overstepping her bounds?
If Mr. Twist wants to step out publicly and speak about his personal opposition to Prop 204, that’s his right. He can go on camera and write editorials to the paper and use his money to finance special interest groups. That’s all legal.
But using public resources and public dollars to try and further a personal political agenda is clearly not legal and should not be tolerated. And whether or not you agree or disagree with his position doesn’t matter as much as whether or not you agree that people in positions of authority should not be allowed to sidestep the law.
As the head of school, Mr. Twist has hundreds of students under his guidance. He needs to be the example of upstanding behavior instead of the exception.