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Senate Bill 480: Political activity of employees of state and local boards of education

The Education/Higher Education committee in the N.C. Senate took up Senate Bill 480 today. A PCS (proposed committee substitute) was submitted to the committee.  The title of the bill is AN ACT TO ESTABLISH A UNIFORM STANDARD FOR POLITICAL ACTIVITY OF EMPLOYEE OF THE STATE AND LOCAL BOARDS OF EDUCATION.  The primary sponsor of the bill, Sen. Andy Wells (R-Catawba), said the bill doesn’t prevent an employee from running for office and doesn’t prevent an employee from advocating for an issue — so long as those things don’t happen during work hours.

Sen. Wells noted an exemption for superintendents and principals to use public funds, supplies, equipment, or vehicles to engage in advocating for or against issues of local, state, or federal policy.

It was noted that the NC Association of School Administrators (NCASA) supports the bill as currently drafted.

Sen. Angela Bryant (D-Nash) asked for clarification on subsection (a)(2), asking what limited this provision to hours while on duty.  

Kara McCraw, committee counsel, said that section (d) limits subsection (a)(2).

The bill now goes to the Senate’s Judiciary I committee.

Here are the provisions at issue:

(a) As an individual, each employee of a local board of education retains all the rights and obligations of citizenship provided in the Constitution and laws of the State of North Carolina and the Constitution and laws of the United States of America; however, no employee of a local board of education shall do any of the following:

(2) Otherwise use the authority of the employee’s position, or utilize public funds, supplies, equipment, or vehicles to secure support for or oppose any candidate, party, or issue in an election involving candidates for office or party nominations, or affect the results thereof.

(d)      Notwithstanding the prohibitions of subdivision (3) of subsection (a) of this section, the following shall not be a violation of this section:

(1) For an employee of a local board of education to utilize public funds, supplies, equipment, or vehicles to engage in advocating for or against issues of local, State, or federal policy if that employee is invited by a local, State, or federal policy making body to address that body on that issue.

(2) For an employee of a local board of education to utilize public funds, supplies, equipment, or vehicles to engage in advocating for or against issues of local, State, or federal policy if any of the following apply.

a. The employee is employed as a superintendent or principal.

b. Upon recommendation by the superintendent, the employee’s position is determined by the local board of education to involve advocacy on the employer’s behalf.

c. One of the stated job duties of the employee is to engage in advocacy on the employer’s behalf.

 

 

 

Mebane Rash

Mebane Rash is the CEO and editor-in-chief of EducationNC and the N.C. Center for Public Policy Research.