Phoenix-area school district warns staff against wearing Red for Ed shirts
May 11, 2018, 8:30 AM | Updated: 4:41 pm
PHOENIX — Teachers and staff in a Phoenix-area school district have been warned they could be fined if they wear Red for Ed or Save our Schools T-shirts to work, citing rules against political advocacy on campuses.
Buckeye Elementary School District staffers were informed in a letter from district Superintendent Kristi Sandvik that “Clothing or signs that specifically advocate for political action to influence an election are prohibited.”
The ruling applied to the public backing of an upcoming ballot initiative filed by organizers of the recently ended statewide teachers walkout.
The proposal, Invest In Education Act, would fund public education by raising income taxes on high-salaried households.
The letter, dated Wednesday, went on to say that teachers and staff could wear red in support of the Red for Ed movement during school hours but advised against “message” shirts. Penalty under Arizona Revised Statutes was a fine of up to $5,000.
A similar message was posted on the Kyrene School District website last month.
“Clothing or signs that specifically advocate for political action to influence an election are prohibited. Teachers and staff may wear red in support of #RedforEd, but we are advising against signs and shirts that contain any messaging regarding #RedforEd. Please remember that the penalty under A.R.S. § 15-511 is a personal fine of up to $5,000.”
The measure requires more than 150,000 signatures filed by July 5 to get on the November ballot.
Arizona Education Association President Joe Thomas mentioned the potential for political action more than once during walkout rallies at the state Capitol.
On the second day of the walkout, April 27, Thomas told the crowd that protesting was the “easy part … because if we go out for a ballot initiative, you’re going to have take a sheet of paper and get a lot of signatures on it.
“And you’re going to have do it in this heat and you’re going to have do it on the weekends.”
There are eight schools in the district.