Campaigning for three board candidates by Antioch school staff discovered inside District office

By Allen Payton

Political flyers from the California School Employees Association (CSEA) of the Antioch Unified School District recommending the election of three candidates for school board, were distributed to members of the Board of Trustees in their joint mailbox and individual mail packets, inside the District office, on Friday, October 28th.

The flyer labeled “Classified Chit Chat shows the names of photos of Board President Diane Gibson-Gray and former Board members Gary Hack and Joy Motts with the title “Special Edition – Election 2016” and the subtitle “CSEA Recommendations for School Board.” It gives the background of each of the three candidates and reasons to vote for them.

About Gibson-Gray, the flyer reads, “She successfully guided the School Board to approve our most recent contract which resulted in raises for all employees and improved health benefits.” The flyer also states, “Mr. Hack has always supported not just teachers, but the Classified employees who are a big part of his constituency.” About Motts, it reads “If it seems like we’re going ‘old school’ in selecting candidates that’s not really the case” and “During her tenure on the Board, it was a time of stability which was good for our members.”

In an email response to questions about the matter, Superintendent Stephanie Anello wrote, “The Board has a mailbox here. This was mail received. We don’t open or read mail.”

Asked if it was for U.S. mail or internal District mail, she responded, “It is for the collection of both US Mail and internal mail.”

Asked if this or any other political campaign material is also being distributed on the campuses and/or by faculty or staff, Anello replied, “There have been no reports of political campaign material being distributed on campuses by staff.”

However, Trustee Debra Vinson said she “also received it.”

When asked if it was it mailed, she responded, “No. It was in the Board packet.”

“It was not mailed,” Vinson continued. “I was a little surprised.”

She said she would inform District staff to put an end to it.

Vinson also mentioned trucks with large campaign signs parked in school parking lots.

“I think the public is fairly tired of the campaigning,” she added.

Board President Diane Gibson-Gray has been seen driving around in a truck with a trailer attached, with her large campaign signs on each side.

Asked if she was parking it in school parking lots, she did not respond before publication time.

In an email response, Trustee Fernando Navarro, who is running for election, but is not supported by the AEA, wrote “No it was inserted loose leaf in the envelope no postage added.
Which brings up the point.  I think this is inappropriate material [to] be sending to the board in general considering two of the board members weren’t even endorsed. It’s kind of a slap in the face in my opinion.”

Anello responded to Navarro, “I’m sorry you felt it was a slap in the face. In short, neither I nor Nancy (Belleci, Anello’s executive assistant) read correspondence – either external or internal that is intended for Board Members.”

Anello and all of the Board members were then asked via email, which staff member placed the flyers in the trustees’ mailbox and packets, and what can and would be done about the distribution of the CSEA flyer. In addition, questions were asked of Anello regarding who delivered the flyers to be distributed, what the procedure is for distributing mail to Board members, if any staff member can bring in things to give to them without them being checked.

8:58 P.M. UPDATE: In an email response at 4:07 P.M., Anello provided answers to the following questions:

Q. Who brought in the flyers for placement in the Board’s mailbox(es) for distribution to the Board members?

A. Anyone can place things in the Board’s mailbox. I have no knowledge of who put it in their box.

Q. What is the procedure for having things distributed to Board members?

A. We distribute the Board’s mail at a time when we are delivering district-related materials.

Q. Can just any staff member bring in things to give to them without it being checked?

A. Yes. Our job is not to screen or censure public comment to elected officials. Additionally, employees do not shed their first amendment rights because they are employed by the school district.

11/04/16 5:43 P.M UPDATE: In a follow up email, Anello was asked “so, what you’re saying…that campaigning is allowed on school property and by staff and during work hours. Correct? Her response was a simple “No.”

Further questions asking if staff doesn’t “shed their First Amendment rights” do they shed them on school district property and during the work day were sent after the work day on Friday. Please check back later for Anello’s response.

Please check back later for Anello’s response.

6 Comments to “Campaigning for three board candidates by Antioch school staff discovered inside District office”

  1. Julio says:

    Allen, who can look into this, county elections or the grand jury? Also, I think they have put Anello in a bad spot and she may end up being their scapegoat.

    • Publisher says:

      I don’t know the answer to that question.
      I’m still waiting to get the answers to my questions of who delivered the flyers to the District office and others mentioned at the bottom of the article. Then perhaps I will take it from there
      Allen Payton, Publisher

  2. Dave S says:

    How have we come to this? Seems like almost all elections, from the local School Board to President of the United States, have been corrupted. Gotta say, the way things are going now, America needs to apologize to to Richard Nixon. Very sad, and no wonder so many of the concerned electorate are becoming disconnected from the processes.

  3. Arfne says:

    This should be reported to the District Attorney’s Office.

  4. eileen says:

    Just asking, is it illegal? Could you add the election code to the article? Because I know personally this goes on all time, wasn’t sure of the legality.

  5. Publisher says:


    I don’t believe it is the Elections Code that governs campaigning on school district property. It might just be a school district policy. I will ask Superintendent Anello.

    Allen Payton, Publisher.

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